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Algeria: Ruling Party Turns On Bouteflika As New Protests Mount

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By Staff, Agencies

Algeria’s ruling FLN party showed more signs of turning its back on Abdelaziz Bouteflika as new protests against him began on Friday, with one senior party figure saying in an interview overnight the long-serving president was “history now”.

Bouteflika reversed a decision to stand for another term after mass protests against his rule, but stopped short of stepping down and says he will stay on until a new constitution is adopted. He has been losing allies in recent days since returning from medical treatment in Switzerland.

The remarks by Hocine Kheldoun to Ennahar television late on Thursday were another major setback Bouteflika, who hoped to pacify Algerians by promising to take steps to change the political landscape dominated by a ruling elite for decades.

Kheldoun, a former spokesman for the ruling party, became one of the most senior FLN officials to break with Bouteflika publicly, saying the party had to look forwards and support the aims of demonstrators protesting against Bouteflika.

On Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in central Algiers to keep pressing Bouteflika to step down. Unlike past Fridays, when demonstrations usually peak in the early evening, this time crowds began forming earlier.

Tens of thousands of Algerians have staged peaceful protests for weeks, demanding a new era with younger leaders who would offer greater social freedoms and prosperity.

Bouteflika, 82, has been in office for 20 years but has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. Protesters say he is no longer in a fit state to rule.

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