Algerians doubt president’s intention on planned exit

Algerian protesters and opposition leaders are cautiously welcoming President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s planned departure, but say it doesn’t go far enough.

Former Prime Minister Ali Benflis and a moderate Islamist movement are among leading voices criticizing the move because it would leave the country’s secretive, distrusted power structure in place.

A standoff is also intensifying between Bouteflika’s entourage and that of the powerful army chief, who turned against the president amid mass protests over Bouteflika’s 20-year rule.

Bouteflika bowed to mounting pressure Monday and announced he will step down by the end of his term April 28, according to his office. Protesters fear it will pave the way for a hand-picked successor instead of a truly democratic change of power.

Students are holding protests in Algiers on Tuesday, and demonstrators are already planning for new nationwide protests Friday.

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