Algeria: Bouteflika renounces a fifth term and postpones the presidential elections

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the target of an unprecedented challenge in 20 years of power, resigned Monday night to seek a fifth term and postponed indefinitely the presidential election of April 18, effectively extending its current mandate.

The announcement made by the Head of State in a message to the Nation published by the official agency was immediately hailed by an uninterrupted concert of horns in the center of Algiers, widely deserted by the police, yet widely deployed during the day.

"Pacifistically, we dropped the puppet!" Sing Algiers Monday evening, mixing the nickname which a song affuble the president and one of the slogans of the protest: "peaceful!".

Hundreds of Algerians, waving the national flag - green and white, with a red star and crescent - gather in several squares in the center of Algiers singing the songs of the two weeks of protest.

"There will be no fifth term" and "there will be no presidential election next April 18", announced the president, the day after his return to Algeria, after two weeks of hospitalization in Switzerland officially for "medical examinations".

- Bouteflika remains head of state -

The next presidential "will take place in the extension of the inclusive and independent national conference (...), representative of the Algerian society", which "will have to endeavor to complete its mandate before the end of the year 2019", continues The head of state.

This conference will set the date of the next presidential, "which I will not be in any case candidate," he says.

By pledging "to hand over the duties and prerogatives of the President of the Republic to the successor that the Algerian people will have freely elected", Mr. Bouteflika states that he will remain in office beyond the expiry of his term of office on April 28, 2019 until a new president leaves the polls.

No text - Constitution or law - is invoked in the message of Mr. Bouteflika to postpone the presidential election. For the constitutional law specialist Fatiha Benabou, a professor at the University of Algiers, "there is no legal basis for postponing elections.In case of political crisis, the Algerian Constitution is partially ineffective".

The cartoonist Ali Dilem, incisive observer of the Algerian political life, summarized in a drawing published on Twitter the new equation. Under the title "Bouteflika gives up a fifth term of five years", we see the Head of State say "instead, I will make a fourth term of 10 years".

France has "hailed" the decision of the Algerian president, "expressing the hope that a new dynamic capable of responding to the deep aspirations of the Algerian people can engage quickly".

In the street and on social networks, beyond the jubilation, some Algerians invited to continue the mobilization.

"What does that mean when he announces that he is not running for a fifth term but is adding a year (to his current term)? That's what he wanted from the beginning, postponing the elections and having a Another year, "said Ahmed Bekhti, a 28-year-old official who" would like the vote not to be postponed and Bouteflika and his clan to step down. "

In Annaba, the fourth city in the country, very mobilized, "the feeling of people is mixed, for them it is a half-victory or a confiscated victory," told AFP a journalist on the spot.

In a tweet, the former diplomat and former Minister of Culture (1998-1999) Abdelaziz Rahabi believes that "President Bouteflika laughs at the people (...) His relentlessness to stay in power will push the country towards the unknown and is a danger to the stability of the state and the unity of the country. "

On social networks, spreads a message saying "No to the scam of the people, go on March 15" for a fourth consecutive Friday of demonstrations.

Bouteflika at the same time sacked the unpopular Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, replaced by Noureddine Bedoui, who until now has been Minister of the Interior.

Ilyas, in his twenties, is delighted that the protest has "brought down part of the mafia clan", referring to the fall of the Prime Minister, "this is only the beginning, the rest will follow," he wants to believe.

Ahmed Ouyahia was one of the favorite Turkish heads of the protesters, who have been on the run for two weeks to say that they have refused a fifth term of office of Mr. Bouteflika.

His replacement Nouredine Bedoui was instructed Monday night to form a new government. He is flanked by a Deputy Prime Minister, the first since 2012: Ramtane Lamamra, a veteran diplomat and esteemed abroad, who also finds the portfolio of Foreign Affairs he had held between 2013 and 2017.

By announcing his candidacy for the presidential election on February 10, Bouteflika had put an end to months of uncertainty, but unleashed an unprecedented protest since his first election as head of state in 1999.

- Massive mobilization -

Aged 82, Abdelaziz Bouteflika is weakened by the effects of a stroke that have prevented him from speaking to the Algerians since 2013 and who have made his public appearances rare.

Friday, a human tide had swept for the third Friday in a row in the streets of Algiers and major cities of the country and mobilization swelled over the weeks, despite attempts to appease the power.

Mr. Bouteflika had unsuccessfully announced a week ago that if he was re-elected - which seemed to make little doubt - he would not go to the end of his term and would retire at the end - already - of a presidential election organized after a national conference.

Monday, a call to the general strike was unequally followed in Algiers and the big cities of the country which remained however very mobilized.

The lawyers, on strike, have again demonstrated, joined in some cities by magistrates, despite the reminder of the authorities to their "duty of reserve".

Student demonstrations are planned Tuesday across the country.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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