ALGIERS — Tens of thousands of Algerians packed the streets of the capital on Friday in the largest protest yet against the rule of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a clear sign that they had rejected as insufficient his offer not to seek a fifth term as president.
“This wasn’t even a proposal,” said Chafika Kherici, a 42-year-old chemist who was there with her sister and nephew, with thousands of others in front of the city’s historic main post office. “Nobody is satisfied with it. We want to be free, and we want the government to leave.”
For a fourth straight week, the crowd chanted over and over that Mr. Bouteflika’s time was up. The protesters said they were determined to carry on with what many called a revolution — a noisy, festive one of singing, chanting, drumming and shouting.
Mr. Bouteflika, who was paralyzed by a stroke, uses a wheelchair and has not spoken publicly in seven years, has ruled Algeria for two decades.
On Monday, his government offered a deal to quiet the protests, canceling the April presidential election scheduled for April, removing Mr. Bouteflika as a candidate, and promising a “national conference” to chart the country’s future.
But the proposal would have left Mr. Bouteflika in power at least until a successor was chosen, and there was no timeline offered for that.
On Friday, the protesters gave the government their answer, shouting over and over that Mr. Bouteflika and his circle must go.
Many in the crowd said it was simply not up to Mr. Bouteflika and his cronies to impose a solution to the country’s crisis.
“We just want him to stop being our president,” said Bouhalissa Narimane, a 23-year-old student. “He’s clearly not going to leave until he’s actually dead. They are all part of the problem. He can’t be part of the solution.”
“And they can’t tell us who can be in the government,” she added. “We decide.”
Wave upon wave of youths descended the seaside capital’s steeply pitched streets in tight ranks, chanting “Get rid of the clique, we’ll be better off!” and “the street will never shut up” or simply, “Government, killers!”
Rows of impassive police officers stood by as the crowds surged through the streets of shabby, dust-covered buildings. “Take off your helmets, and join us,” a band of youth chanted to them.
The police only looked down glumly.