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abdelaziz bouteflika

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has decided to resign after weeks of mass protests, state media report.

The 82-year-old, who has been in power for 20 years, had already dropped plans to seek a fifth term as opposition to his rule grew.

The Algerian army had called for the president to be declared incapable of carrying out his duties.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika suffered a stroke six years ago and has rarely appeared in public since.

Car horns could be heard in the streets of the capital, Algiers, as hundreds celebrated the announcement.

People waved Algeria’s national flags and sang.

News of the resignation came in a statement carried on state news agency APS.

The statement read: “The president of the republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has officially notified the president of the constitutional council of his decision to end his mandate as president of the republic.”

State TV then reported that this would be with immediate effect.

According to the constitution, the Senate speaker should take over as interim president until fresh elections are held. The chairman of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, is expected to become caretaker president for three months until elections.

Pressure had been building since February, when the first demonstrations were sparked by President Bouteflika’s announcement that he would be standing for a fifth term.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika hospitalized in Paris after suffering mini-stroke

Tens of thousands protested across the country on March 1. Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s promise not to serve out a fifth term if re-elected, along with a change of prime minister, failed to quell the discontent.

Leaders of the protests also rejected President Bouteflika’s offer this week that he would go by the end of his current term – April 28 – as not quick enough.

It seems the powerful military agreed. Its chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah, said on April 2: “There is no more room to waste time.”

The protesters have also called for the whole political system, in which the military plays a significant role, to be overhauled.

Many of the demonstrators are young and say they want a new system of government.

There were accusations that Abdelaziz Bouteflika was being used as a front by “le pouvoir” – a group of businessmen, politicians and military officials – to retain their power.

Elections originally scheduled for April 18 were postponed and the governing National Liberation Front (FLN) vowed to organize a national conference on reforms.

The FLN has ruled Algeria since 1962, when the country won independence from France after seven years of conflict.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who came to power in 1999, strengthened his grip after a bloody civil war against Islamist insurgents which left 150,000 dead.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has suffered a mini-stroke and has been flown to hospital in Paris, the state news agency said.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 76, had a “transient ischemia” – a temporary blockage of a blood vessel often called a mini-stroke – an official told the APS news agency.

But he said there was “no reason for worry” about the president.

The agency said Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who makes few public appearances – was undergoing tests in Paris.

The Algerian leader is reported to be at the Val de Grace military hospital, commonly used by high-profile patients from France and beyond.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has suffered a mini-stroke and has been flown to hospital in Paris

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has suffered a mini-stroke and has been flown to hospital in Paris

“An initial investigation has already been opened and his Excellency the president of the republic must observe a period of rest to undergo tests,” Rachid Bougherbal, the director of the National Sports Medicine Centre, was quoted as saying by APS.

PM Abdelmalek Sellal echoed Rachid Bourgherbal’s assurances that there was no need for concern.

But the fact that he has been sent to Paris has prompted questions about the accuracy of the official account, correspondents say.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika underwent surgery in hospital in Paris several years ago. Officially the problem was a stomach ulcer, but a leaked US diplomatic cable suggested he had cancer.

In spite of his age and apparently failing health, there are still those who believe Abdelaziz Bouteflika could stand for a fourth term in office in elections scheduled for next year.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika is part of an ageing leadership which has dominated Algerian politics since the country gained independence from France more than 50 years ago.

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