Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia warned of “Syrian scenario in Algeria” in light of extensive calls for mass protests today (Friday) denouncing a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Ouyahia responded Thursday in the parliament to remarks and questions by many MPs in the context of presenting outcomes of the government's achievement during 2018.
While recounting the President's achievements in figures and project naming, the PM talked about the strong popular opposition to the President's term extension.
Notably, demonstrations have been ongoing since last Friday, and they are expected to escalate today after Friday prayers.
“There is hateful movement against Bouteflika. Does it target his history and achievements?” Ouyahia wondered.
The President has not spoken in public and has made few public appearances since suffering a stroke in 2013, which has confined him to a wheelchair.
He ran for 2014 elections at people’s request, Ouyahia explained, adding that he clearly and transparently presents outcomes of his achievements to his people.
Opposition MPs, a minority, strongly criticized the figures and statistics provided by the PM.
"Instead of presenting the government’s achievements in 2018, it has dealt with all the projects and actions implemented by the executive branch since the beginning of the fourth mandate five years ago, and this is similar to what Ouyahia has presented to the parliament, an early campaign for the running president,” they said.
Ouyahia, for his part, also drew a comparison to the 1991 strike that preceded Algeria's 10-year civil war.
“I remember 1991, it was like today. I read today that there is a call to strike, I remember the strike of 1991," he added, pointing out that he still does not understand why all this opposition since the constitution provides the right of candidacy for all, and no one has the right to deny the President the request to renew confidence in his program.
He compared the growing protest movement to the peaceful demonstrations that erupted in Syria and sparked a war, which is now nearing its ninth year.
Addressing MPs, Ouyahia said some “demonstrators offered roses to the policemen. But we should recall that in Syria it also began with roses", he said.
His remarks sparked ire from a number of lawmakers who stormed out of parliament while others applauded the prime minister.