The President of Algeria has finally bowed to pressure from his citizens and agreed not to stand as a candidate for the next Presidential Election. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has postponed the presidential election which was expected to be held on April 18th this year and declared that he will not take part in the election.
President Bouteflika is presently 82 and has led Algeria for 20 years. In 2013, he suffered a debilitating stroke that has kept him on a wheelchair since then. As of early 2016,
Bouteflika has not been seen in public for more than two years, and several of his close associates have not seen him for more than one year, it is alleged he can hardly speak and is said to communicate by letter with his ministers.
Mr. Bouteflika’s announcement came a day after he returned home from a two-week stay in a Swiss hospital. He was welcomed with a strike by teachers and students at different universities. Many shops remained closed and plane services were suspended.
On Sunday, thounsands of students took to the streets of Algiers, waving the Algerian flag and chanting “Bouteflika, there will be no fifth term.” The protests were triggered by Mr. Bouteflika’s announcement last month to seek a fifth term in office.
More than one thousand judges said on Monday they would refuse to oversee the elections if Bouteflika stood. Clerics said they would not accept government orders about what to preach.
Bouteflika’s announcement brought back crowds onto the streets in celebration on Monday evening. Hundreds of people, young and old, some draped in the national flag, jumped up and down with excitement. Cars beeped their horns in approval.
A new date is still to be announced for the postponed election. The president has also said that a new constitution would be submitted to the public for a referendum and his last duty would be to contribute to the founding of a new systems that will be in the hands of a new generation of Algerians.