JOHANNESBURG, April 3 – Algeria’s ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82, has abruptly stepped down after two decades in power despite submitting his candidacy over the weekend to run for a fifth term in power in the forthcoming April presidential elections.
Bouteflika bowed to weeks of mass pressure against his rule, tending his resignation on Tuesday night via a brief message from the presidency saying he had “notified the president of the constitutional council of his decision to end his mandate”, the Guardian reported.
Since the end of February hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have been holding peaceful protests every Friday despite the brutal response of security forces.
And as news of his resignation reached the public jubilant Algerians took to the streets of the capital waving national flags.
His ongoing rule had become a bitter symbol of autocratic and ageing regimes across North Africa and the Middle East. But the success of popular protest in ending his presidency has buoyed Algerians and given hope to the public in other Arab countries following the failure of the Arab Spring in 2011 to bring about democracy and more freedom in the region.
But what lies in store remains an open question with the military jittery over Islamists once again gaining strength.
Parliamentary elections were held in Algeria in December 1991.
The first multi-party elections since independence, they were cancelled by a military coup after the first round after the military expressed concerns that the Islamic Salvation Front, which was almost certain to win more than the two-thirds majority of seats required to change the constitution, would democratically form an Islamic state.
The annulling of the election led to the outbreak of the Algerian Civil War. (ANA)