Bouteflika returns to Algeria as ruling elite turn on leader

Elias Hubbard
Марта 11, 2019

Earlier on Sunday, an Algerian government Gulfstream 4SP jet landed at Geneva airport at 9.45am amid a heavy police presence.

The president's office announced in a statement on Sunday evening, cited by the official press agency APS, that Bouteflika had returned to Algeria on Sunday after two weeks in hospital in Geneva following "periodic medical examinations".

Algerian authorities have declined to discuss Bouteflika's health or his whereabouts, and hospital authorities at Geneva University Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment, have declined to comment.

Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013, and he was re-elected in 2014 for a fourth term until 2019.

Bouteflika arrived at Boufarik military airport, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital, and was shown in video by private television station Ennahar in a fast-moving convoy heading toward the Algiers suburb of Zeralda.

"Bouteflika is welcome if he comes back but we do not need him at the presidency", said Aziz, a 17-year-old student.

On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of the capital carrying the Algerian flag and chanting: "Bouteflika, there will be no fifth term".

The top Algerian party backing beleaguered President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has broken its silence over massive demonstrations demanding the end of the regime, saying it's ready to work with all parties to end the crisis.

On Sunday, retailers and merchants closed their stores, while workers at several state-run companies and institutions staged sit-ins in response to a general strike call.

Despite promising to stand down should he secure another term, protesters have not been swayed.

Bouteflika, who has ruled the North African country since 1999, officially filed paperwork to run for a fifth term last week, but vowed that if he won he would only serve for one year before holding new elections.

Algerians packed central Algiers to capacity on Friday in the biggest protests in the capital in 28 years.

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