Lawyers and journalists demonstrated Thursday in Algiers, against a fifth term of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, on the eve of a third Friday of national protest for which the mobilization looks strong.
A thousand lawyers of the bar of Algiers gathered, Thursday, in front of the seat of the Constitutional Council, claiming that it invalidates the candidature for a fifth mandate of the head of the State, in power for 20 years. 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been weakened by the aftermath of a stroke since 2013. Tens of thousands of people have marched across the country since 22 February to request the withdrawal of his candidacy for a fifth term in office. election of April 18th.
Dressed in their black robes, the lawyers brandished large Algerian flags. True to the watchword of protesters who insist on the peaceful nature of the protest, a lawyer even approached a police officer to kiss him. On Thursday, walking about 1.5 km, they managed to cross, at the price of some jostling but smoothly, several lines of police to reach even the Constitutional Council, which studies, since March 4, 21 applications filed within the legal deadlines, including that of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
"This application is inadmissible"
"We ask the Constitutional Council to assume its responsibilities," said Mr. Ahmed Dahim Council member of the Bar of Algiers, while his colleagues chanted "No to the fifth term! ". "This application is inadmissible," continued the lawyer, noting that the file must legally include a medical certificate that the state of health of Abdelazize Bouteflika does not allow to issue.
They were applauded by passersby on the course, according to images broadcast on social networks. The Council must decide on the candidatures before March 14th.
A very weak President
President Bouteflika was hospitalized on February 24 in Switzerland, officially for "periodic medical examinations", but his return to Algeria has still not been announced. Since his stroke, the head of state has not spoken to the Algerians and his public appearances have become rare.
By announcing, on February 10, his candidacy, he has unleashed an unprecedented challenge against him since he was elected head of state in 1999. Wednesday, the Algerian Order of Doctors reminded the Constitutional Council that medical certificates issued to presidential candidates must meet the "rules of medical ethics" and physicians writing them must be "registered on the roll of the College of Physicians".
While officially banned, since 2001, in the capital, the demonstrations are almost daily in Algiers since the beginning of the protest, February 22.
Mobilization in the media
Dozens of journalists – from private and public print media and the audiovisual sector – also gathered for the second consecutive Thursday on the Place de la Liberte de la Presse, in central Algiers, to protest at again against the "pressures" exercised, according to them, by their hierarchy in their coverage of the protest movement. They also intended to show their solidarity with the Arabic dailies Echorouk and El-Bilad, which, according to some of their journalists, have been deprived for several days of institutional advertising in retaliation, according to them, to their coverage of the news.
In Algeria, the state remains omnipresent in the economic field. It is the main advertiser of the country, through its legal announcements, its administrations and its companies. The management of their advertising is the monopoly of the National Agency for Publishing and Advertising (Anep), which its critics describe as a political tool to asphyxiate newspapers considered restive. The police, who had arrested a dozen journalists during the previous demonstration, did not intervene.
General meetings, to bring together teachers and students, were scheduled, moreover, Thursday, in several universities across the country to discuss including the outbreak of strike action.
Friday, the mobilization, announced strong on the social networks through which the calls for protest – especially via the hashtag "# Mouvement_du_ March 8" – will be scrutinized while the presidential camp believes that the head of state responded to claims. In a letter to the Algerians, published on March 3, he promises, if he is elected not to finish his term and to convene an early presidential election, to which he will not run after a national conference charged with to reform the system deeply.