Algeria's anti-Bouteflika protests marked by clashes, violence

Published April 7th, 2014 - 06:35 GMT

Violence enveloped protests throughout Algeria over the weekend ahead of the country's upcoming presidential elections that are believed to be rigged in favor of incumbent and ailing leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika, according to Agence France Presse.

Dozens of protesters gathered east of the country's capital in the mainly Berber area of Kabylie to call for a "free and democratic Algeria" and one without Bouteflika. 

"Free and democratic Algeria!" and "Boutef, pull out!" they chanted, before police arrested about 20 demonstrators, according to journalists present at the gathering.

Another anti-Bouteflika rally was crushed by authorities in Bejaia earlier during the weekend as well after protesters torched portraits of the incumbent leader and attacked the television crew covering the demonstration.  

In previous elections, Kabylie has also been the main site of violent protests, with over 126 people killed in 2001 due to clashes between security authorities and the demonstrators particularly frustrated with discrimination, growing corruption and poor living conditions under Bouteflika's rule. 

Bouteflika is expected to win a fourth term in the upcoming election, despite the fact that his ailing health since his stroke last July has limited his public appearances--and even his election campaign outings--to the bare minimum, if any.

The elections are set to take place on April 17. 

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