Algeria tensions: Governing party chief backs protesters

Algeria tensions: Governing party chief backs protesters
An algerians woman holds a placards that reads, 'we need to disinfected the system' during a protest in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Thousands of students, doctors, dentists and veterinarians have marched in the Algerian capital to demand that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step down. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The acting head of Algeria’s governing party says it is throwing its support behind protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Critics viewed the move Wednesday as an effort to save the reputation of the FLN party, or National Liberation Front, amid increasing disillusionment with Algeria’s power structure.

FLN interim leader Moab Bouchareb told a meeting of party leaders that the party “supports the popular movement.” But he also appeared to support Bouteflika’s “roadmap” for political reforms.

Bouchareb himself has been criticized as representing a leadership considered corrupt and out of touch with Algeria’s struggling youth. The FLN is Bouteflika’s party.

Protesters want the ailing Bouteflika to step down after 20 years in power. Bouteflika responded by abandoning plans for a fifth term and promising reforms, but also delayed presidential elections indefinitely.