Demonstrations are expected to take place nationwide on Friday, March 22, amid heightened political tensions after top officials expressed their support for protests. On Tuesday, March 19, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah, Algeria's army chief, indicated that protesters were "noble" and had "pure intentions," while the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) head Moad Bouchared, also pledged support for the demonstrations. FLN leaders called for prompt negotiations about the future of the country's leadership to ensure stability. These developments follow a statement by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday, March 18, stating that he will remain in office until a new constitution has been approved.
Additional associated political rallies and protests are likely across Algeria in the coming days and weeks. A heightened security presence and associated disruptions (e.g. transportation, commercial, internet service) are likely during protests. Clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.
Several protests have been organized across the country since February 22 in response to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's campaign to be reelected for a fifth term; presidential elections were set for April 18 before being postponed by the president. Bouteflika previously stated he would not run for reelection following weeks of protest over his candidacy.
Bouteflika has been in power since 1999. There is widespread discontent with Bouteflika's economic policies, lack of public appearances following a stroke in 2013, and repression of speech; such frustrations have led to the largest and most extensive anti-government demonstrations in Algeria since the 2011 Arab Spring protests. Public demonstrations in Algeria, banned since 2001, are usually rare and are often met with a heavy security presence. On March 1, at least 183 people were wounded in clashes between protesters and police across the country.
Individuals in Algeria are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all public demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate business and transportation disruptions as well as a heightened security presence near protest sites, refrain from discussing political subjects in public or on social media, and adhere to instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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