Algeria lawyers join strike against Bouteflika re-election

A woman holds Algerian flags during a rally against Algerian president's decision to stand for a fifth term in office, on March 3, 2019. Photo: AFP

NEWSROOM (ADV) – Barristers across Algeria on Monday joined strike action against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office, a day after the ailing leader’s return from hospital in Switzerland.

The lawyers launched a 48-hour walkout to demand the Constitutional Council reject Bouteflika’s re-election bid on the grounds of “incapacity” to carry out the role.

The Council has until Thursday to rule on candidates for Algeria’s April 18 election.

Magistrates have also been called to strike, although Justice Minister Tayeb Louh has stressed they were duty-bound to remain neutral.

“Justice must keep its distance from political tensions,” he said.

Bouteflika’s return from Geneva – where he spent the past two weeks in hospital – came as protest strikes Sunday shut down the capital’s public transport system and many schools across Algeria.

The 82-year-old president, who suffered a stroke in 2013, left Algeria on February 24 for what the presidency described as “routine medical checks”.

Demonstrations against Bouteflika’s bid for another term have brought tens of thousands of protesters onto Algeria’s streets for each of the last three Fridays, with smaller demonstrations taking place on other days.

Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and whose rare public appearances since his stroke have been in a wheelchair, has made no public comment since his return to the country.

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