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    Police attempt to disperse lawyers trying to force their way to the constitutional council during a protest to denounce an offer by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run in elections next month but not to serve a full term if re-elected, in Algiers, Algeria March 7, 2019

    Algeria's Bouteflika Warns of 'Chaos' as Protests Challenge His Re-Election Bid

    © REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra
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    A group of lawyers has unsuccessfully attempted to prevent 82-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from standing for re-election for a fifth consecutive term. His decision to run in the April election caused the biggest protests seen in the country since 2011.

    Hundreds of lawyers reportedly swarmed the streets of Algeria's capital on Thursday, protesting against President Bouteflika's presidential bid.

    Responding to the protests, Bouteflika warned Algerians against the risk of "chaos" resulting from possible foreign interference. "Breaking this peaceful expression by any treacherous internal or foreign group may lead to sedition and chaos and resulting crises and woes," he wrote in a letter reported by Algerian news agency APS and cited by Reuters.

    The protests flared up on Thursday after the Constitutional Council of Algeria refused to consider lawyers' appeal against the ailing Bouteflika, Sky News Arabia reported on Thursday.

    On 3 March, Bouteflika's campaign manager submitted his candidacy papers to the Council. According to Algerian laws, contenders must submit their bids in person. Moreover, critics say that a president can serve only two five-year terms. A 2016 constitutional reform limited presidents to two terms, reversing a 2008 reform which allowed Bouteflika to be re-elected the following year.

    The incumbent president, who has been ruling the country since 1999, suffered a stroke in 2013. He has since been wheelchair-bound and has rarely been seen in public. He is ostensibly undergoing medial tests in a hospital in the Swiss city of Geneva.

    Despite his condition being assessed as critical, Bouteflika wants to run for a fifth presidential term next month. His announced bid sparked nationwide protests, which have reportedly left over 180 people injured. 

    The demonstrations, numbering in thousands, prompted the president to sack the head of his campaign team, former Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, and replace him with Transport Minister Abdelghani Zaalene. Bouteflika also promised to hold an early presidential election within a year in case he is elected, while he would not run.

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