Faced with protesters’ anger, Abdelaziz Bouteflika drops bid for fifth term

The 2019 Algerian presidential election, scheduled for April the 18th, will not be taking place. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced, in a letter addressed Monday to Algerian, that he will not seek a fifth term.

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika./Ph. DR

Following mass protests across Algeria, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he will not be bidding for a fifth term. In a «letter to the nation», the 82-year-old leader said that he «understands the motivations of the many people who chose this method of expression», referring to the protests that have been taking place in Algeria.

The President announced that the 2019 presidential election will be postponed, assuring that he has withdrawn his bid for a fifth term.

«My health and my age only permit me to fulfill my last duty towards the Algerian people (that) is to work on laying the foundations of a new republic», wrote Bouteflika.

But will Abdelaziz Bouteflika remain in power after the 18th of April ? This question was not answered in the President’s letter, which was dubbed a «response to the urgent demand» of Algerians.

However, in his letter, the President announced that a «national conference» would be tasked with planning the vote and would be drafting a new constitution for the country. Moreover, Bouteflika promised to name an interim government.

An Egyptian scenario

According to the President, this national conference «will be a forum with all the forces necessary for debating, developing and adopting all types of reforms, which are meant to be the foundation for the new system». «The conference should strive to complete its mandate by the end of 2019», added Bouteflika.

The alliance between the army and the Bouteflika clan is witnessing its first failures. After criticizing Algeria’s enemies both inside and outside the country, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, sent a letter, Monday, that highlighted the love between the army and the Algerian people.

This scenario is similar to the one that took place in Egypt in 2011, when former Egyptian President Housni Mubarak preferred to stick to his guns faced with protests.

The withdrawal of Bouteflika from the presidential race obviously leaves time for the army to seek a successor that is accepted by the entire political class and especially the youth.

Ouyahia has been removed from office at the head of the government. The Kabyle was replaced by Noureddine Bedoui, who used to head the Ministry of Interior. Ratmane Lamamra was also promoted to Deputy Prime Minister, a first in Algeria.

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