Bouteflika Appoints Prime Minister to Reorganize Algerian Government

Hugh Fox
March 14, 2019

Right after the announcement, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia resigned and former interior minister Noureddine Bedoui was appointed as his successor. This will delay the elections, but Mr Bouteflika has promised not to seek a fifth term.

In a third week of protests on Friday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Algiers calling for change in the biggest demonstration yet against Bouteflika.

In a letter to the nation released by state news agency APS on Monday, Bouteflika, 82, stressed the importance of including Algeria's disillusioned youth in the reform process and putting the country "in the hands of new generations".

The president returned Sunday from two weeks in a Geneva hospital, but his health problems and overall condition remain unclear.

When the Arab Spring uprisings erupted across the Middle East and North Africa, Bouteflika's regime smothered dissent and played on fears of a repeat of Algeria's civil war.

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French President Emmanuel Macron urged Algerian authorities to organise a "reasonable" transition after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika dropped a bid for a fifth term in office and scrapped upcoming elections. He became president in 1999 and reconciled a nation riven by a deadly Islamic insurgency, but questions swirl over whether he is really running the country today.

- April-July 2013: Bouteflika spends nearly three months in hospital in Paris after suffering a stroke.

Earlier on Monday, some 1,000 judges said they would not oversee the election if Bouteflika ran, and religious leaders declared their intention to oppose him.

President Bouteflika's candidacy had provoked mass protests across Algeria over the past few weeks. His critics say it's an apt symbol of the current state of his presidency - accusing members of his party and the military of using Bouteflika as a figurehead to maintain power as Algeria's economy stagnates. As a result, Bouteflika had to pledge in a written statement that if was re-elected on April 18, he would call a snap vote and not seek a new term to ensure the transition of power to a new president within a year.

A number of protests have also been staged in Switzerland against the Algerian president since he arrived in the country.

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The worldwide reaction was comparably upbeat, as French President Emmanuel Macron proclaimed the beginning of a new chapter in Algerian history, provided the transition period has a "reasonable duration".

Algerians took to the streets of Algeria, chanting "this is a republic, not a kingdom" and "20 years is more than enough".

Bouteflika's decision to abandon a fifth term unleashed celebrations Monday, but many called it only a first step.

"Since I was born, the only (president) I've known is Bouteflika", said a young protesting girl Amina, asking not to give her full name.

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