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Algeria's ailing president makes rare appearance as police quell protest calling for his dismissal Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Algeria's ailing president makes rare appearance as police quell protest calling for his dismissal

Critics have questioned the 80-year-old's ability to govern the country [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 September, 2017

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Algeria's stroke-afflicted president has made a rare public appearance as protesters calling for him to be dismissed over his failing health were rounded up in the country's capital.

Algeria's stroke-afflicted president has made a rare public appearance as protesters calling for him to be dismissed over his failing health were rounded up in the country's capital.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika appeared on state televison on Wednesday at a meeting of his cabinet, making no statement, as police arrested protesters calling for him to step down.

Dozens of protesters took to a square in central Algiers dressed in t-shirts bearing the slogan "Article 102" - the section of the country's constitution that stipu­lates a president can be removed from office if he is unable to carry out his duties.

Soufiane Djilali, the head of opposition party Jil Jadid, told local media that at least five protesters were detained for six hours before being released.

The movement, which organised the protest, said an online statement that among the arrested was Nouredine Oukrif, a member of its political bureau.

"Jil Jadid strongly condemns the oppressive and totalitarian actions against citizens," the statement said.

"The party considers these arrests to be flagrant violations of freedom of speech and individual and collective liberties," added.

Critics have questioned the 80-year-old's ability to govern the oil-rich, gas-exporting country since a 2013 stroke, but the president's inner circle has insisted he is able to fully exercise his powers.

The Algerian leader, who now lives in medicalised housing, has been wheelchair-bound ever since the stroke and makes few public appearances.

A power struggle has emerged at the top of Algerian politics ahead of the 2019 presidential elections, as Bouteflika's physical and mental health deteriorates.

A former presidential candidate last month made the radical step of criticising the president - illegal under Algerian law - calling him "mentally deficient".

Bouteflika, Algeria's longest-serving leader, won re-election in 2014 to serve a fourth term.

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