Algeria's Embattled President Says Will Step Down Before End of Term

Bouteflika will resign before his mandate ends on April 28 after more than a month of mass protests and army pressure seeking an end to his 20-year rule

File photo: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in his wheelchair after being sworn in for his fourth term, Algiers, April 28, 2014.
Sidali Djarboub,AP

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika intends to step down before his fourth term ends on April 28, according to a statement issued by the ailing and embattled leader's office Monday.

The short statement said Bouteflika would take "important steps to ensure the continuity of the functioning of state institutions" after he leaves the office he'd held since 1999. It did not spell out a date for Bouteflika's departure.

Massive weekly protests demanding Bouteflika's departure along with his cadre of loyalists have challenged the political status quo of his long rule. The 82-year-old president has rarely been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013.

Protesters demand the resignation of Algerian President Bouteflika, Algiers, March 29, 2019.
\ RAMZI BOUDINA/ REUTERS

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He originally declared his candidacy for a fifth term, then withdrew and postponed the election in response to the massive protests.

But he had stopped short of leaving immediately in favour of waiting for a national conference on reforms to address discontent over corruption, nepotism, mismanagement and the prolonged grip on power of elderly veterans of the 1954-62 war of independence against France. 

Bouteflika's hesitation further enraged protesters, spurring the powerful army chief of staff to step in by proposing last week to implement a provision of Algeria's constitution that calls for a constitutional council to determine whether Bouteflika was still fit to govern or allow him to resign.

The Algerian Constitution calls for the head of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, to act as interim leader for a maximum of 90 days while an election is organized.

Algerian national television announced Sunday night that Bouteflika and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui had named a new government after the weeks of mass protests and political tensions in this gas-rich North African country.

The new government must stay in place during the transition period.