March 13, 2019 / 1:57 PM / in 4 months

Algeria’s government ready for dialogue with opposition: Deputy PM

People take part in a protest demanding immediate political change in Algiers, Algeria March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s government is ready for dialogue with the opposition, its Deputy Prime Minister said on Wednesday, after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika reversed a decision to seek a fifth term in the face of mass protests.

“Dialogue is our duty. Our top priority is to bring together all Algerians,” Ramtane Lamamra told state radio.

Earlier, Armed Forces Chief of Staff and deputy defense minister Ahmed Gaed Salah told Ennahar TV the army would preserve Algeria’s security “in all circumstances and conditions”.

The initiative by Bouteflika, who also delayed elections and said a conference would be held to discuss political changes, has failed to satisfy many Algerians who continue to want the country’s stale political system dismantled quickly.

Tens of thousands of people from all social classes have demonstrated almost daily against a political system dominated 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 Hamid Ould Ahmed; writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Michael Georgy

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