Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Bouteflika Withdraws From Re-Election, Algerians Celebrate in Streets

Bouteflika Withdraws From Re-Election, Algerians Celebrate in Streets

Lakhdar Brahimi, a former foreign minister and United Nations special envoy, is expected to chair the conference that will oversee the transition, draft a new constitution and set the date for elections, the source told Reuters.

The ailing 82 years old wheelchair-bound President Abdulaziz Bouteflika, who has ruled Algeria for four terms (20 years), declared his intention to run for the fifth term in office in April.

National television broadcast footage on Monday night of Bouteflika in his trademark three-piece suit receiving several senior officials.

While he was away, widespread demonstrations railed against another term for Bouteflika.

"We will march more determined than ever to end this system, to end this mafia".

"No to manipulation, let's be vigilant".

"We have won the battle".

Protesters claimed the move was proof that "those in power want to stay".

The announcement was followed by the naming of interior minister Noureddine Bedoui as prime minister in place of Ahmed Ouyahia, according to APS.

Young people have been at the forefront of the push against Bouteflika, and thousands of students thronged the streets of Algiers on Tuesday.

This shows that "he gives in on the presidential but not on power", independent newspaper El Watan wrote in an editorial titled "Bouteflika's last trick".

President Bouteflika's candidacy had provoked mass protests across Algeria over the past few weeks.

In remarks from Djibouti, President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Bouteflika's announcements as starting "a new page in the development of Algeria's democracy", even as he called for a "reasonable time frame" for a transition period.

Born in the border town of Oujda, Morocco, Bouteflika became one of his country's most enduring politicians.

"There is no legal basis for postponing the elections", she said, adding that "in the event of a political crisis, the Algerian constitution is partially ineffective".

The president's pledge, a day after he returned from Switzerland where he spent two weeks at a hospital for medical checks, failed to convince his key rival Ali Benflis. But critics on Algerian social media Tuesday dismissed him as a symbol of a has-been generation and member of the global elite who has spent too much time overseas to understand Algeria's current reality. In the meantime, Algeria will be governed by an interim government to oversee the country's day-to-day institutional function.

A coterie of people have grown rich under Bouteflika and are thought to exert pressure on the presidency.

Former culture minister Abdelaziz Rahabi tweeted that Bouteflika was "ridiculing the people".

"The entire world, and all of Algeria knows that he is no longer of this world", he told reporters, charging that powerful players in Algeria had an interest in maintaining the illusion that Bouteflika was alive to keep their grip on power in the country.

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