US embassy in Algiers warns of Friday, Sunday protests

            By Hassan Jibril <br>

ALGIERS (AA) – The U.S. embassy in Algeria is warning U.S. nationals of possible demonstrations in the North African country — on Friday and Sunday — to protest President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s planned bid for a fifth term in office.

“Demonstrations may take place throughout the country on Friday, Feb. 22, and Sunday, Feb. 24,” read a statement on the embassy’s website.

Addressing U.S. nationals in Algeria, it added: “Monitor local media and avoid crowds and demonstrations.”

Recent days have seen mounting calls on social media by Algerian activists for countrywide demonstrations to protest Bouteflika's recent decision to contest presidential polls slated for April 18.

On Wednesday, the authorities noticeably stepped up security in and around central Algiers.

Earlier this month, the ruling National Liberation Front officially nominated the 81-year-old Bouteflika — who has ruled Algeria since 1999 — to run for a fifth term in office.

Opposition leaders have repeatedly urged the aging head of state, who in 2013 was treated for a brain blood clot, to refrain from contesting the upcoming election.