Abdelaziz Bouteflika gave in to protesters last week by promising not to stand in elections for a fifth term, along with agreeing to reforms to make to the political system more inclusive in Algeria. But the 82-year-old, who has rarely been seen in public over the last five years after suffering a stroke, did not stand down and said he will stay on as president until there is a new constitution. His decision has resulted in citizens holding more rallies in Algiers today and brandishing Algerian flags as they protested in heavy rain.
Mahmoud Timar, a 37-year-old teacher, said during the protests: “We stay here until the whole system goes.”
Restaurant owner, Rachid Zemmir, 55, added: “We are close to victory. The system is divided.”
Police trucks were called to the protests, but there have been no reports of violence between security forces and the crowds.
Algerians have been protesting over Mr Bouteflika since last month, despite demonstrations being banned in Algerian towns and cities, including Algiers, since 2001.
But the Algerian capital has been experiencing its biggest protests in more than a decade over the upcoming presidential elections, which are due to be held on April 18.
Mr Bouteflika, who has been in office since 1999, was originally running for his fifth term as head of the National Liberation Front party.
He is said to be a veteran of Algeria’s independence struggle against the colonial power France.
This has worried many citizens, who fear Algeria could go back to “years of tears and blood”.
Many remember the civil war in the 1990s, which killed more than 200,000 people.
Around 45 percent of the Algerian population is under 25 and more than a quarter of people aged under 30 are unemployed, according to official figures.
Young people are said to feel disconnected from people in power, who are made up of those who remember Algeria’s 1954-1962 war of independence with France.
The president is even losing support of the military, as Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah said the army was supporting the protesters, as they had expressed “noble aims”.
Members of Mr Bouteflika’s own party, known by its French acronym FLN, have also sided with the protesters.
Protesters chanted today: “FLN, go.”
Bouteflika said in a speech in 2012 that it was time for his generation to hand over to new leaders.
This lead to many Algerians believing his brother Said is now running the show behind the scenes.