Rabat – Fearing that the Bouteflika regime is trying to trick them into ending their protests without achieving what they were aiming for, Algerians are out asking that the president step down as soon as possible.
Algeria and the world reacted euphorically earlier this week to the announcement that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was no longer interested in re-election. Bouteflika’s office announced that he had “understood Algerians” and was ready to give in for the good of the country.
For his decision to give up on his re-election bid, however, Bouteflika asked Algerians to allow him to stay in power indefinitely until a postponed election, originally scheduled for April 18.
Algerians welcomed the news at first. As far as they were concerned, Bouteflika stepping down was a “small victory” needed for the advent of the “new Algeria.”
Since Thursday, however, Algerians have experienced a change of heart about Bouteflika’s “grand plan.”
In place of the celebratory mood on Monday, there now unfolds suspicion about the regime’s sincerity. Many took to the streets on Friday to denounce what they saw as the regime’s latest move to cling to power.
“Bouteflika and his men must go as soon as possible,” Britain’s the Guardian quoted a 23-year-old protester as saying.
In the boisterous streets of Algiers on Friday, others echoed the young protester’s sentiment, appearing to suggest that the president and his entourage have an ulterior motive.
Algerian civil society movements agreed. They urged more protests, saying the regime is playing “trick and divide” to survive.
The protests come as Noureddine Bedoui, the newly-appointed prime minister, promised that a new “technocratic government” would be formed as soon as next week. Bedoui said that he would “take into account the message of the protesters during the formation of the government.”
Meanwhile, there are reports that some members of the political establishment, sensing that this may be the last stop for a regime that has ruled for two decades, are joining the camp of protesters.
“Game over. Bouteflika has no choice but to quit now,” members of the president’s inner circle told Reuters on condition of anonymity.