At last ,Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigns after mass protests
Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned with immediate effect, according to state media, ceding power in the face of massive street protests against his 20-year rule.
The ailing, 82-year-old leader announced he was stepping down in a letter published by APS news agency on Tuesday, just hours after the army chief demanded immediate action to remove him from office.
“My intention … is to contribute to calming down the souls and minds of the citizens so that they can collectively take Algeria to the better future they aspire to,” Bouteflika said in the letter to the president of the Constitutional Council.
“I have made this decision to avoid and prevent the arguments which distort, unfortunately, the current situation, and avoid its turning into serious skirmishes, to ensure the protection of persons and property,” he added.
The announcement prompted celebrations in Algeria’s capital, Algiers, with hundreds of people singing songs and waving flags in front of the city’s central post office.
“This is a victory for my country,” said 25-year-old Kamel, who only gave his first name. “We now want the rest of the old guard to leave, we also want the corrupt businessmen to be judged. We have won one political battle, not yet the war.”
Translation: “President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, officially notified the president of the constitutional council his decision to end his mandate as president of the Republic.”
‘No room to waste time’
The anti-Bouteflika protests broke out in late February when the longtime president, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced a plan to seek a fifth term in elections scheduled for April.
Hundreds of thousands of people, for several weeks, took to the streets of Algiers and other major cities calling for the president’s resignation.
On March 11, Bouteflika sought to defuse the unrest by abandoning his re-election bid. However, he delayed the presidential vote indefinitely and announced he would only step down once a new constitution had been passed and a successor had been elected.
But public anger continued to mount, prompting key allies to abandon the president.
Ahmed Gaid Salah, the army’s chief of staff, last week called for Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule, and on Monday, the embattled leader said he would quit before the end of his term on April 28