March 19, 2019 / 6:42 AM / in a month

New Algerian group urges Bouteflika to step down, and army not to interfere

FILE PHOTO: People carry their national flags as they gather during a protest over President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's decision to postpone elections and extend his fourth term in office, in Algiers, Algeria March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

ALGIERS (Reuters) - A new Algerian group headed by political leaders, opposition figures and activists has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down at the end of his term on April 28, and urged the army not to interfere in politics.

In a statement titled “Platform of Change”, the National Coordination for Change also pushed the government to resign, after more than three weeks of mass demonstrations against Bouteflika’s 20-year rule.

“There is an urgent need to make radical changes of the system in place with new personnel,” said the group.

Algerian authorities have always been able to manipulate a weak opposition. But new influential opponents have emerged from growing protests that peaked on Friday, with hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Algiers.

Prominent members of the new group include lawyer and human rights activist Mustapha Bouchachi, opposition leader Karim Tabou and former treasury minister Ali Benouari, as well as two well-known Islamists, Mourad Dhina and Kamel Guemaz.

Reporting by Algiers bureau; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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