Algerian judges refuse to oversee vote if Bouteflika participates

A demonstrator holds a poster representing a silhouette of Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika on a wheelchair reading "oust" on the Place de la Victoire in Bordeaux, southwestern France on March 10, 2019 durig a rally in support of the ongoing protests in Algeria against the president's bid for a fifth term in power. (Photo by AFP)

A multitude of Algerian judges have joined forces with opposition protesters against the country’s president, refusing to oversee the presidential election scheduled for next month if the incumbent takes part again.

More than 1,000 judges said in a statement that they would not oversee the April presidential election if ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika runs in it in defiance of growing calls for him not to do so.

The judges added that they were forming a new association.

Political analysts see the move as a major blow to Bouteflika, who just returned to Algeria on Sunday after undergoing medical treatment in Switzerland.

The 82-year-old president has rarely been seen in public since a stroke in 2013. Last April, he appeared in Algiers in a wheelchair.

Bouteflika, who has been at the helm of power in the North African country since 1999, is currently serving his fourth term as president of the former French colony.

Tens of thousands of protesters from all walks of society have been demonstrating unrelentingly for three weeks against his decision to stand in the upcoming presidential race.

Protesters say they disapprove of the country’s old political system, which is led by Bouteflika and dominated by veterans the 1954-1962 independence war against France, including the president, himself.

On Sunday, thousands of Algerian expats also held rallies in France and Canada in solidarity with anti-government protesters at home.

Algerian-origin protesters rallied in front of the Algerian embassy in Montreal, calling on Bouteflika not to seek another term in office.

Thousands of Algerians also demonstrated in Paris to show support for protesters at home.

Police said up to 10,000 people gathered in the Place de la Republique in the east of the French capital calling on the president to go.

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