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BREAKING: Bouteflika, Algeria’s President, Bows To Pressure, Resigns
Bouteflika “officially advised the Constitutional Council of the end of his term of office as President of the Republic” from Tuesday,
Algeria’s ailing leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika submitted his resignation with immediate effect, state television said on Tuesday, ceding power in the face of massive street protests after two decades at the helm.
Bouteflika “officially advised the Constitutional Council of the end of his term of office as President of the Republic” from Tuesday, said a news ticker on the public broadcaster.
Long accused of clinging to power, Bouteflika has come under mounting pressure to step down since his decision to seek a fifth term despite rarely being seen in public after suffering a stroke in 2013.
The 82-year-old, who uses a wheelchair, said last month he would pull out of the bid for another term, and his office on Monday said he would resign before his mandate expires at the end of the month.
The moves failed to satisfy protesters who feared a ploy to extend his rule, with hundreds of students taking to the streets earlier on Tuesday.
The news of his resignation ends 20 years of rule, with the veteran of the independence struggle finally losing his grip after weeks of massive street protests and the loss of support from key loyalists.
Car horns sounded in the street as small crowds of people began gathering to celebrate in Algiers.
Algeria’s constitution says that once the president officially resigns the speaker of the upper house of parliament would act as the interim leader for up to 90 days during which a presidential election must be organised.
The resignation came hours after the military demanded impeachment proceedings be launched against Bouteflika immediately as it dismissed the announcement he would resign before his mandate expires.
Armed forces chief Ahmed Gaid Salah called for “the immediate application of the constitutional procedure for removing the head of state from power”, in a defence ministry statement after a meeting of top brass.
The statement said the army considered an announcement from the presidency on Monday that Bouteflika would resign by the end of his term on April 28 as invalid because it did not come from the president himself.
“Any decision taken outside the constitutional framework is considered null and void,” the general said.
– ‘Radical change’ –
Without naming anyone, Gaid Salah criticised “the stubbornness, the procrastination and the deviousness of certain individuals who are trying to make the crisis last and make it more complex with the only concern being their narrow personal interests”.
He said the army’s “sole ambition” was to “protect the people from a handful of (other) people who have unduly taken over the wealth of the Algerian people”.
A long-time Bouteflika ally, the general last week called on the president to resign or be declared unfit to rule, becoming one of the first of his faithful supporters to abandon him.
On Monday, the presidency said in a statement that Bouteflika would resign “before April 28, 2019”, after “important decisions” were taken, without specifying when these moves would occur.
The veteran leader would take “steps to ensure state institutions continue to function during the transition period”, it said in the brief statement that was carried by the official APS news agency.
That announcement was greeted by little sign of euphoria as people insisted that the whole ruling establishment must go.
Bouteflika’s resignation would not “change anything”, psychology student Meriem Medjdoub said as she marched in central Algiers earlier Tuesday with around 1,000 protesters.
“We are demanding a radical change,” she told AFP.