Thousands of Algerians have flooded the streets of the capital to celebrate the departure of the decades-long president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Rabat – Throngs of people took to the streets of Algerian cities yesterday to celebrate the resignation of the ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
After five weeks of mass protests across a number of Algerian cities, protesters marched together yesterday, April 2, to commemorate their long-awaited moment of victory in the wake of news that Bouteflika had officially resigned from office.
Videos have circulated social media showing cheering crowds of Algerians waving flags and euphorically chanting, marking the beginning of a critical transition for the Algerian people.
Some protesters chanted slogans like, “The people and the army are brothers!” and “Oh, Gaid Salah, fill up the prisons,” a call to the army chief to arrest other corrupt leaders.
Since February 22, Algerians have engaged in mass protests in opposition to Bouteflika and Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party, which declared on February 9 that Bouteflika would run for a fifth term in office.
Protesters demanded the ailing president abandon his campaign for the 2019 elections on April 18 and called for a radical change to the political system.
The protests were largely peaceful. But in early March, protests escalated into clashes between riot police and protesters, who were heading to the presidential palace. Police fired tear gas to push protesters back, and protesters threw stones. A number of people were injured, including policemen.
Bouteflika initially responded, on March 11, by saying he would not run for a fifth term, but he also said he would extend his fourth term for an undefined period of time. Protests continued, and Bouteflika announced a cabinet reshuffle on March 31, but protesters refused to backtrack on their demands.
Finally, Bouteflika gave in to popular demands and handed his resignation letter to the Constitutional Council late Tuesday, April 2, ending a 20-year presidency. The Constitutional Council is meeting Wednesday to confirm the resignation and appeal to the two houses of Parliament to declare the presidency vacant.
In his resignation letter, Bouteflika stated that he is leaving office to “protect the country from dire consequences, its possessions, and placate citizens.”
President Bouteflika tendered his resignation less than four weeks before his term would have officially ended on April 28.
Since 2013 when Bouteflika suffered a stroke, he has rarely been seen in public and he has been confined to a wheelchair.
Army chief Gaid Salah demanded last week that Bouteflika step down or that the Constitutional Council declare him unfit for office, invoking Article 102 of the Constitution.
The article stipulates immediate removal of the president if deemed unfit for office due to his state of health.