Blow to Bouteflika as his ruling party join protestors

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Bouteflika has been abandoned by his party after protest intensifies in Algiers over his rule.

The party of ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Wednesday it supports protesters’ calls for change while backing his call for dialogue to overcome the country’s political crisis.

The National Rally for Democracy (RND), a member of the ruling coalition, has joined ruling party officials, unions and business tycoons who have abandoned Bouteflika in recent days, after nearly a month of street demonstrations protests.

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Bouteflika, who has ruled for 20 years, bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to stand for a fifth term. But he stopped short of stepping down and said he would stay in office until a new constitution is adopted, effectively extending his present term.

RND leader Ahmed Ouyahia, a former prime minister who had close ties to intelligence agencies, has also switched sides. “The people’s demands should be met as soon as possible,” he told followers in a letter on Sunday.

The protests continued on Tuesday, with students, university professors and health workers rallying in Algiers calling for Bouteflika to quit.

Algeria’s protest has been recorded to be the first ever mass protest in Africa over ruling government.

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