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Algeria, the Friday of the great anger

New demonstrations against power have been called in Algeria for Friday, the flagship day of protests, after a week that saw President Abdelaziz Bouteflika postpone the elections, extend its mandate and propose a reform plan immediately mocked.

Students and academics, then teachers and high school students, have already demonstrated in numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday, following the decisions of the head of state to waive a fifth term while deferring indefinitely the presidential election originally scheduled for 18 April.

The precarious 82-year-old leader has effectively extended his current term until the end of a “National Conference” to reform the country and draft a new constitution. No date has been set for this conference.
Calls for a fourth consecutive Friday of major protests across the country resumed on Thursday, echoing the press conference of new Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who on Monday replaced the unpopular Ahmed Ouyahia and his deputy prime minister Ramtane Lamamra.

Their statements did not seem to allay anger, long since February 22, though still peaceful. It is unprecedented since Bouteflika came to power 20 years ago, in a country that did not participate in the 2011 Arab Spring.

“We have heard the message of the Algerian youth” and “the demands of the street” will set the course of the future government, assured Mr. Bedoui. Its composition will be unveiled “at the latest next week” and it will be a team of “technocrats”, drawing on the “young skills, men and women,” he said.

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