Algeria shuts universities as rallies pile pressure on Bouteflika

Posted by News Express | 10 March 2019 | 738 times

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Universities across Algeria will close two weeks before a scheduled holiday, authorities have announced, in an apparent attempt to defuse student-led protests against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is seeking a fifth term in office.

The Ministry of Higher Education's decision on Saturday came a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators packed the centre of Algiers to challenge the ailing leader's 20-year rule in the biggest rallies the capital has seen in decades.

Without giving a reason for the move, the ministry said in a decree that the spring break would be brought forward by 10 days - now to run from Sunday to April 4.

Students have been at the heart of the mass protests - which began on February 22 - to denounce the 82-year-old Bouteflika's plans to extend his rule in an April 18 election.

Teachers and students at several universities have gone on strike, while others had vowed to begin striking on Sunday.

While Friday's rallies in Algiers and elsewhere were mostly calm, police reportedly used tear gas in several areas of the capital, including to block the road to the presidential palace.

State media also said security forces had detained 195 protesters, citing offences including looting as grounds for the arrests. (Aljazeera)

The ministry's decision came a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators packed central Algiers to challenge Bouteflika's rule

Source: News Express

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