On Sunday, Bouteflika’s campaign manager said if re-elect

  ed, the president would orchestrate a national conference to pave

a way for debate over amending the constitution and deciding a time for early elections.

  However, the regime’s talk of compromise did little to placate voter frustrations and was met with ridicule, says St

ephen McInerney, executive director for the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy.

  Algerian lawyers protest on February 25, holding up placards with slogans in Arabic that read: “The lawyers are with the people.”

  For many Algerians, he says, the suggestion of early elections was simply a play for time by the country’s ruling pa

rty, the National Liberation Front, which appears to have been unable to choose a successor to Bouteflika.

  ”They tried to buy themselves more time, but on the other hand, the

y’ve had quite a bit of time and they’ve known this election was on the calendar,” McInerney adds.

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