March 13, 2019 / 1:37 PM / 2 months ago

Army says it will preserve Algeria's security in all circumstances

FILE PHOTO: A student holds a banner during a protest against Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers, Algeria March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s army will preserve the country’s security “in all circumstances and conditions”, Deputy Defence Minister Ahmed Gaed Salah told Ennahar TV on Wednesday, amid continuing protests by Algerians demanding rapid political change.

Gaed Salah is also the armed forces chief of staff.

Ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has abandoned his bid for a fifth term in power but stopped short of stepping down, raising suspicions on the street that he is buying time.

His initiative after three weeks of mass demonstrations against his rule has not defused anger on the streets, and school teachers began a strike in several cities on Wednesday to keep up pressure on the 82-year-old head of state.

Bouteflika has also delayed elections and promised to hold a conference on Algeria’s political future.

Tens of thousands of people from all social classes have demonstrated almost daily against a political system dominated for nearly 60 years by the military and veterans of the 1954-62 independence war against France.

Bouteflika has ruled for 20 years but has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.

Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean

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