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Essebsi: The Algerian people have the right to choose their rulers freely

Image of Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Former Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika [National Algerian Centre/Facebook]

In his first comment on the protests of Algeria demanding the departure of his counterpart, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the Tunisian President, Beji Caid Essebsi stressed that the Algerian people have the right to express their opinion and choose their own rulers, pointing out at the same time that what is happening in Algeria is a private issue and Tunisia "does not give lessons to anyone."

During his participation in the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Essebsi said: "Our country (Tunisia) cannot provide lessons to others, and what happens in Algeria is a private issue," according to Sputnik.

He added that "the Algerian people, who resisted colonization for 130 years, of course, know what to do," and said that "they have the right to express themselves as they find convenient and choose their rulers freely, but I certainly cannot give lessons to anyone."

Algeria has witnessed successive protests since Bouteflika, the 81-year-old president, announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election on 10 February, pledging in a letter to Algerians to hold a conference to agree on "deep reforms" if he wins.

READ: Algeria's biggest trade union supports Bouteflika's candidacy for a fifth term

On Sunday, hundreds of Algerians took part in a new protest in the capital called by "Citizens' Movement", an organization opposed to the continued rule of Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and includes liberal activists led by Gilali Sufian, head of the New Generation party (secular).

The protesters, most of whom are opposition activists, gathered in the Maurice Audin square in central Algiers, chanting slogans which reject the president's candidacy for a fifth term in the 18 April elections.

According to eyewitnesses, the Riot Police who surrounded the square prevented the protesters from passing through Didouche Mourad Street, used teargas to stop their movement and arrested several demonstrators.

This protest is the second of its kind in the centre of the capital against the candidacy of Bouteflika for a fifth term after mass popular demonstrations on its streets last Friday, in response to calls that activists circulated in social networking sites.

READ: Bouteflika, a ghost-candidate in a presidential race

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