Over 1,000 Algerian judges said on Monday they would refuse to oversee the presidential elections next month, if President Abdelaziz Bouteflika participates, according to a statement by the judges that was published by Reuters.
They added that they will be forming a new association. However, the Algerian Minister of Justice, Tayeb Louh, warned the judges not to take any sides and that they should be committed to neutrality. “You should remain neutral,” Louh said, commenting on the judges’ statement.
Similarly, the Algerian Muslim Scholars Association declared their refusal of any pressure by the Algerian Minister of Endowments to give speeches to support Bouteflika.
For the second consecutive day, students took to the streets against Bouteflika.
The country has witnessed many strikes among schools, train workers, and gas companies which took place on Sunday, against Bouteflika’s fifth term bid. Many students, workers, and shopkeepers gathered in the streets due to summons on social media calling for civil disobedience.
Strikes caused panic among citizens which led to severe congestion and long queues in front of stores and gas stations, however, the ruling party in Algeria, the National Liberation Front, stated that they are working with all political parties to get out of the crisis with minimal damage, and warned of civil disobedience.
Nevertheless, the Algerian presidency announced Bouteflika’s return to the country on Sunday, after undergoing a medical check-up in Switzerland.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets, and joined the protests against the ailing 82-Bouteflika–the biggest demonstrations since his ruling.
Three weeks ago, the demonstration started by chanting against Bouteflika-who is seeking to run for a fifth term after 20 years of ruling the country-who stated that he wants to continue to “maintain stability and the building and construction to register more victories and progress”.