Algeria’s Bouteflika will not run for a fifth term, PM resigns

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Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his withdrawal on Monday from a bid to win another term in office and postponed an April 18 election, following weeks of protests against his candidacy.

A government reshuffle is expected to take place soon, Reuters reported.

Bouteflika, in a message carried by national news agency APS, said the presidential poll would follow a national conference on political and constitutional reform to be carried out by the end of 2019.

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia resigned and Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui, not known as a member of Bouteflika’s inner circle, replaced him. Ramtane Lamamra, a diplomatic advisor to Bouteflika, was named deputy prime minister, reported Reuters.

Bouteflika met Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gaed Salah and veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, the kind of widely respected figure the military might look to as a guarantor of stability.

The Algerian leader’s announcement brought crowds back 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.

The 82-year-old president returned to the North African country on Sunday after two weeks in a Swiss hospital undergoing “routine medical checks,” amid mass protests against his bid for a fifth term in office.