ALGIERS: Several hundred demonstrators rallied in the Algerian capital Friday in defiance of a ban on demonstrations, and in other cities as well, against a bid by ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to win a fifth term.
"No fifth mandate," chanted the mostly young demonstrators, many waving Algerian flags, as they started to march through central Algiers. There was a heavy police presence, with a helicopter hovering overhead.
"Ouyahia, get out!" the crowd also cried around the capital´s landmark Grand Post Office, referring to Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, a Bouteflika loyalist heading the government for a third term. Scuffles broke out between the demonstrators and helmeted security forces equipped armed with batons and shields. Tear gas was fired on the crowd, an AFP correspondent said, as police barred access to a group trying to head for the presidential palace, some four kilometres (2.5 miles) away.
Some demonstrators in Algiers scaled the outside of a building and tore down a poster bearing the portrait of the 81-year-old president. An official ban on demonstrations in Algiers was imposed in 2001. But in February 2018, thousands of trainee doctors tried to hold a protest at the same venue. They were rapidly encircled and their path blocked by police.
Activists used social media to call for Friday rallies against Bouteflika across the country after the weekly Muslim prayers, also filling the main square in Annaba, 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Algiers with demonstrators, the TSA news website said.