Algeria’s longest-serving president resigned late Tuesday night after weeks of protests railed against his 20-year rule.
Demonstrations in the capital Algiers turned into celebrations on Tuesday night after Algeria’s ailing president bowed to demands from protesters and the army to step down.
The protests were sparked in late February after the 82 year-old president announced plans to run in the upcoming April elections.
The ousted leader’s ability to govern was called into question after he was left incapacitated and wheelchair-bound by a stroke six years ago.
In a rare appearance on state TV on Tuesday night Mr. Bouteflika relinquished his powers and issued a statement to the media saying:
“I have taken this step because I am keen to put an end to the current bickering.
State TV later reported that his presidency would end immediately.
The state news agency APS confirmed the news, carrying the statement:
“The president of the republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has officially notified the president of the constitutional council of his decision to end his mandate as president of the republic,” it said.
A Cri de coeur
Mr. Bouteflika’s rise to power in 1999 held high hopes of a new era of economic development and political transparency.
But the government’s suppression of the opposition and rule by a shadowy cabal of business, military and ruling party officials was seen as corrupt by the country’s youth, who make up the majority of the 42 million population.
Last elected in 2014, Bouteflika was once hailed as the Algeria’s saviour for leading the country out of civil war, and bringing security and economic stability.
Bouteflika’s exit is unlikely to quell protests which have expanded across Algeria’s major cities calling for full-blown regime change, and an end to rule by Le Pouvoir, the power, who form the backbone of the country’s ruling elite.
Under the Algerian constitution the Senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah will run the country for an interim period of 90 days until fresh elections are held.
Seen as a gateway between Africa and Europe, Algeria is the third largest supplier of gas to Europe and a partner of the West in the fight against terrorism.
Heads of state in Algeria and its east African neighbour Sudan were left virtually unscathed by the 2011 Arab spring. Yet a recent upsurge in protests has threatened to uproot another of the continent’s entrenched rulers Omar Al Bashir
Sudanese protesters, who took to the streets in December 2018 to decry the spiralling cost of living and economic deterioration at all levels of society, welcomed the news that another African leader had fallen.