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Algeria's Tempest Grows as Powerful Groups Back Protesters

  • Influential veterans group voices support for demonstrators
  • Bouteflika’s health is reportedly deteriorating steadily
Algerian students demonstrate in Algiers on March 5. 

Algerian students demonstrate in Algiers on March 5. 

Photographer: Billal Bensalem/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Opposition to Algeria’s ruling regime swelled as lawmakers from the OPEC member’s oldest party resigned from parliament and a powerful group of veterans joined demonstrations against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.

The escalating opposition against the 82-year-old president has posed the biggest challenge yet to a ruling elite, known as “le pouvoir,” that managed to avoid the turmoil that gripped neighbors during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. The backing by veterans of Algeria’s war of independence from France delivered a heavily symbolic blow to the ruling National Liberation Front, which launched the 1954-1962 conflict.