Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika would be stepping down before his mandate ends on 28th April, his office mentioned on Monday in a statement that was televised on state media. Longtime President would be surrendering to weeks of mass protests and army pressure who also wanted to bring an end to Bouteflika’s 20-year rule. The ailing 82-year-old Algerian president, who has rarely been seen in public since he suffered from a stroke in 2013, has come under immense pressure to resign since he declared his decision to seek a fifth term in office. Initially, in order to defuse tensions, he stated that he was giving up his plans to contend for a fifth term. However, no timetable about Abdelaziz’s exit was given.
As this action enraged the demonstrators, army chief of staff stepped in and suggested enforcing a provision of Algeria’s constitutions under which a constitutional council would decide whether Bouteflika was still fit to governor allow him to resign.
Under the Algerian constitution, Abdelkader Bensalah, chairman of the upper house of parliament, would take over as interim president for 90 days till fresh elections are held. At the same time, Bouteflika, who is 82 and in poor health, will try to assure that the state institutions continue to function properly, during the change period. The statement even mentioned that Abdelaziz would resign before 28th April.
There was no instantaneous reaction from leaders of the protest movement that has jolted Algeria, a major oil producer, since 22 February. Many demonstrators want a new generation of leaders to oust elderly, secretive ruling elite considered by many as out of touch and unable to jump-start a wavering economy impeded by cronyism.
In a sign that demonstrators might ask for more changes, most opposition parties rebuffed a new caretaker cabinet selected by Bouteflika late on Sunday, stating that the prime minister was too close to ruling circles.
Many opposition leaders on Sunday backed the army chief’s suggestion that Bouteflika’s capacity to rule be assessed under article 102 of the constitution.