Algeria: President Bouteflika finally promises to stand down

14 March, 2019, 07:18 | Author: Donnie King
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Bouteflika, 82, abandoned his bid for a fifth term, bowing to weeks of rallies against his 20-year rule by people demanding a new era of politics in a country dominated by an old guard.

President Bouteflika has postponed the April 18 presidential elections with no new date for the election was set.

The protests have also served as a reality check for a hard-to-read system that is an intrinsic part of the power structure.

"Those who have been talking of leaders (from the demonstrations) want to bring you down", activist Fodel Boumala told protesters in Algiers. It pushes Bouteflika to announce political reforms in April but the opposition says the measures are insufficient.

The presidential aircraft carrying Bouteflika landed at Boufarik Military Airport, some 45 km southwest of the capital Algiers, at 5:48 p.m. local time (1648 GMT).

Bouteflika could be seen inside a auto slightly bent over and with a cap on his head.

Several thousand students protested in the capital, Algiers, and elsewhere in the country, brandishing banners against an extension of the president's fourth term.

Numerous police officers had been stationed near the VIP wing on the eighth floor of the HUG earlier Sunday afternoon, as television crews waited outside hoping to catch a glimpse of Bouteflika's departure, according to another AFP journalist.

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The president has said the demonstrations could plunge the country into "chaos".

Algeria's deputy prime minister said Bouteflika's decision was the most important turning point in since independence from France in 1962, Annahar TV reported. "There have also been demonstrations against Bouteflika in cities across France, home to the world's largest Algerian diaspora". Broad, nationwide protests are expected Friday.

Security was high in Algiers, where some businesses were shuttered by a second day of strikes.

"These kids don't have any political calculations", said a mother on the sidelines of the protest, Karim Ziad. "This will be a sleepless night", said 25-year-old Abdelghani Hachi.

Bouteflika ousted his prime minister as a gesture to protesters, but replaced him with a loyalist, Noureddine Bedoui, who took office Tuesday in a ceremony in which he pledged to "work tirelessly to live up to" Bouteflika's trust.

The influential El Watan newspaper on Tuesday carried a banner headline suggesting that Bouteflika's move to drop his bid for a fifth term was merely a "ploy".

The statement cited Bouteflika's "health and age" as reasons he would not seek a fifth term in office, oddly claiming "there has never been any question of it" even though he refused to bow out of the race until the protest movement forced his hand. Similar marches were held across the country.



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