Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Algiers and other cities on Friday, March 29, marking the sixth consecutive Friday of anti-government demonstrations in Algeria. Organizers and opposition leaders vowed to continue with protests demanding the immediate resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is facing increasing pressure from political allies and the military to step down. On Saturday, March 30, Army Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaïd Salah reiterated his call for the impeachment of President Bouteflika after meeting with top military officials. Meanwhile, some opposition leaders rebuked Salah saying the military should not play a role in determining the future of the country.
President Bouteflika announced on Sunday, March 31, a new caretaker government led by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui. The group is comprised of 27 cabinet members, including six officials who were retained from the previous government, including army chief Salah. Smaller demonstrations have also been reported in Algiers on Saturday evening (local time) and Sunday morning; reports indicate the demonstrations passed off peacefully.
Additional nationwide rallies and protests are expected over the coming days and week. A heightened security presence and associated disruptions (e.g. to transportation, business, internet service) are likely during protests. Clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.
Multiple 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 protests 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 26, army chief Ahmed Gaïd Salah first called on parliament to begin impeachment proceedings to remove Bouteflika. As of March 31, parliament has not agreed to consider invoking Article 102, which allows the legislature to declare the incapacity of the President of the Republic via a two-thirds majority vote in a joint session of both legislative chambers.
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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