Algerian students demand political system overhaul

ALGIERS: Hundreds of students hit the streets of the Algerian capital on Tuesday dismissing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s promise to resign as a diversion and demanding an overhaul of the country’s political system.
The announcement on Bouteflika’s resignation “doesn’t change anything”, psychology student Meriem Medjdoub said as she marched in central Algiers with around 1,000 protesters. “We are demanding a radical change,” she said.
Bouteflika’s office on Monday said the president will resign “before April 28” — the date marking the end of his current mandate. The announcement came after a succession of loyalists deserted him in the face of the massive protests rocking Algeria.
It was greeted by the beeping of some car horns in Algiers on Monday, but there was little sign of euphoria as people insisted that the whole ruling establishment must go.
Some Algerians even shrugged it away as an “April’s Fool” and a “non-event”.
On Tuesday it was clear that for many Algerians Bouteflika’s departure after 20 years in charge was not decisive enough.
El Watan newspaper said the announced resignation was a “half measure… as long as the departure of all those who symbolise the (ruling) system has not really started”.
Liberte daily agreed saying “the end of Bouteflika’s long reign is far from being the same as the end of the system”. Students on the streets of Algiers voiced doubts and concerns.
“It is a diversion… they are trying to gain time,” said Imen Zaaf.
“I wonder what is behind all this,” chimed in Yasmine, who like many Algerians believes the announced departure of Bouteflika is a manoeuvre by the veteran leader and members of his inner circle.
The presidency, in a brief statement carried by the official APS news agency on Monday, said Bouteflika will step down after “important decisions” are taken.
He would take “steps to ensure state institutions continue to function during the transition period”, the statement said. — AFP