Friday, 11 April 2014

Algeria: Violence greets Bouteflika's campaign in Bejaïa

The most violent demonstration against President Abdelazi Bouteflika’s campaign was probably that of Saturday 5 April in Bejaïa in the mainly Berber Kabylie region. Protesters stormed and broke up the Bouteflika campaign rally being addressed by Abdelmalek Sellal. They took over the platform, set fire to Bouteflika’s portraits and burnt down much of the venue; attacked a television crew covering the event, injuring four of them, and stoned the Bouteflika cavalcade as it left town.

Three days later, hundreds of students staged a more peaceful protest against Bouteflika in Bejaïa, marching from Bejaïa University campus to the local government headquarters, calling for a boycott of the presidential election on 17 April and urging citizens to mobilise for “peaceful change".

Sellal abandoned the Bejaïa rally and, perhaps unwisely, moved on the next day to the Berber capital of Tizi Ouzou where he and his entourage were greeted with similar animosity. Dozens of students tried to demonstrate ahead of the rally chanting "Free and democratic Algeria!" and "Boutef, pull out!", before the police moved in and arrested about 20 of them. 

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2014 Menas Associates

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