//Algerian president to return amid protests

Algerian president to return amid protests

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Media captionAlgeria protesters chant: “Peaceful! Peaceful!”

Algeria’s ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to return home on Sunday.

Mr Bouteflika, 82, has been staying at Geneva University Hospital for the last two weeks. He has rarely been seen in public since having a stroke in 2013.

A government plane landed in the Swiss city on Sunday and is flying him back to Algeria, reports say.

The president’s announcement that he would stand for re-election next month sparked huge protests across Algeria.

The mass demonstrations, which have seen tens of thousands of people take part, are thought to represent the biggest threat so far to Mr Bouteflika’s 20-year rule.

The plane that landed in Cointrin airport this weekend is thought to be the same one that flew him over on 24 February.

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Reuters

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A convoy was seen in Cointrin Airport in Geneva on Sunday

Broadcaster Al Arabiya Hadath TV reported that security forces had been deployed between Algiers airport and the presidential residence in Zeralda, just outside the capital Algiers.

Mr Bouteflika’s office previously insisted that he was just going to Geneva for routine health check-ups, but it led to speculation that his condition was far more serious.

He has said that the mass demonstrations, which broke out last month after he confirmed he would seek a fifth term, could plunge the country into “chaos”.

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Reuters

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Thousands of people demonstrated on the streets of Algiers on Sunday

Teachers and their students have gone on strike at several universities, with thousands taking part in protests on Sunday.

Algeria reportedly has more than 1.7 million students. More than a third of these live on campus, but many others travel long distances to study from family homes.

Thousands of students have spilled out into the streets of Algiers, waving the Algerian flag and chanting: “Bouteflika, there will be no fifth term.”

Many shops in the city have been closed, and Reuters reports that train services have been suspended.

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Reuters

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Student protesters face-off with security forces in Algiers in renewed protests on Sunday

The student protests comes after demonstrations on Friday saw tens of thousands of people take part – possibly the biggest protests in the capital in 28 years.

On Friday, riot police fired tear gas to prevent the mostly peaceful groups from reaching a road leading to the presidential palace, and local reports said 195 people were detained by the security forces.

Many who demonstrated that day initially gathered at university sites before heading onto the streets.

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Reuters

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The protests are believed to be the biggest threat ever to President Bouteflika’s 20-year rule

What happened on Friday?

The protest was the largest one ever against Mr Bouteflika. Riot police were deployed along the protest route, and helicopters circled the capital. All public transport services in the capital were suspended ahead of the rally.

Demonstrations were also reported in Algeria’s second-largest city, Oran, and in Tizi Ouzou. Some organisers had called for 20 million people to take part in Friday’s demonstrations, billed as the “#March 8 Movement” on social media.

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Getty Images

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Mr Bouteflika is rarely seem in public nowadays

What do the protesters want?

The wave of protests was triggered by the announcement last month that Mr Bouteflika would seek a fifth term in office in April’s election.

Mr Bouteflika later released a statement saying that he would step down early if re-elected – but this has not placated the demonstrators.

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Media captionAlgeria protests: What’s behind them?

Many young Algerians are frustrated by a lack of economic opportunity and by what they perceive as the corruption of an elite that has governed the country since it gained independence from France.