Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s campaign manager has threatened to shoot demonstrators who have come out against the leader’s plans to run for a fifth term, leaked footage has shown.
In the audio recording, thought to be from 19 February when university students came out in protest, Abdelmalek Sallal can be heard talking to the President of the Algerian Business Leaders’ Forum Ali Haddad.
“The intelligence agency is afraid that the demonstrations will spread into the country,” Haddad warns, but Sallal assures him that “they will not go there and will not spread.”
Haddad adds: “Today students took to the street and protested,” and Sallal responded: “If they protested, the National Gendarmerie will not tolerate this, nor go easy and it will react.”
The audio recording showed Haddad asking Sallal to remain steadfast until 3 March, when Bouteflika’s candidacy is filed. Sallal responded that “they think Bouteflika will withdraw very easily.”
The recording revealed the authorities’ plan to thwart the popular demonstrations that were due to take place on 22 February. Haddad stressed the need to serve the demonstrators to stop them from coming out. “If necessary, we provide them with food,” while Sallal replied: “Let them block the street, and if they shoot, we will shoot them too.”
On 10 February, Bouteflika announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, pledging to hold a conference to agree on “deep reforms” if he wins.
Since then, the country has witnessed popular protests and calls for Bouteflika to withdrew his candidacy.