Abdelaziz Bouteflika bowed to widespread protests on Monday by announcing he will not seek a fifth term and delaying next month’s presidential election.
The Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has withdraw his bid for a fifth term in power on Monday after weeks of mass demonstrations against his 20-year rule by people demanding a new era of politics in a country dominated by the old guard and postponed elections scheduled for April in order to allow for consultation on reforms “for a new generation”.
After 20 years in power Bouteflika made the surprise announcement on Monday in a letter to the Algerian people released by his office. “I understand the motivations of the many people who chose this method of expression. This new system and new republic will be in the hands of a new generation of Algerian people,” Bouteflika said in the letter promising a national conference lasting until the end of this year to find his successor.
As Bouteflika made his announcement, the prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, resigned and was replaced by Noureddine Bedoui, previously the interior minister, Ennahar TV reported on Monday. Ramtane Lamamra, who was Bouteflika’s diplomatic adviser, was named deputy prime minister.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said: “President Bouteflika has the right to run for a fifth term. I am convinced that he will. This does not need to be guessed or calculated. I expect President Bouteflika to announce his candidacy in a message addressed to the Algerian people. Bouteflika does not need an electoral campaign, because the presidential coalition supports him, and the people know him, appreciate his achievements, and have supported him in all stages.”
Bouteflika, who returned to Algeria on Sunday after medical treatment in Switzerland, has barely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke. The Algerian President, who is 82, has faced unprecedented protests in recent weeks calling on him to step down.
The protests have mostly been peaceful and Bouteflika’s announcement should have defused the potential for a bloody showdown with security forces.
About two weeks after the start of the candidacy applications, the Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday the reception of 172 candidacy applications, mostly by unknown figures.
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