Algerias Longest-Serving Prexy Abdelaziz Bouteflika Dies At 84
Algeria's former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died at the age of 84, Algerian state television said late Friday, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.
Photo Insert: Then Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika casts his ballot for the May 10th legislative election in 2012.
Bouteflika was the longest-serving president of Africa's largest country and was forced to step down in 2019 after months of mass street protests against his 20-year rule. Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to cancel a planned visit in 2017 at the last minute because Bouteflika's state of health did not allow it.
He survived the widespread protests in the Arab world in 2011, initially avoiding being deposed like his counterparts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. He was long considered by Western leaders as a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism.
Bouteflika had ruled the country for four consecutive terms since 1999, but when he announced he would run for a fifth term in spring 2019, anger erupted in Algeria. The move sparked mass protests, with millions of participants and demonstrators demanding his departure from the government.
The military eventually withdrew its support and Bouteflika was forced to resign a few days before the end of his fourth term.
Bouteflika came to power in 1999 during the final years of war between the state and Islamist factions. The decade-long civil war began after the army intervened to prevent an Islamist party from winning the country's first multi-party elections in 1992.
It is estimated at least 150,000 people died. Bouteflika negotiated a peace deal that led to a dramatic reduction in violence. His longevity is often credited to the fact that Algerians were still traumatized by the brutal war and balked at rocking the boat, despite widespread disenchantment with a stagnating economy and his regime's corrupt, authoritarian ways.