Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is dead


His death comes two years after he resigned under pressure from mass protests and the army.

Bouteflika, a veteran of the Algerian War of Independence, had ruled the North African country for two decades before resigning in April 2019 after street demonstrations rejected his plan to seek a fifth term.

Since suffering a stroke in 2013, he had rarely been seen in public before he left.

After Bouteflika’s resignation to end protests that called for political and economic reform, the authorities launched an unprecedented corruption investigation that resulted in the arrest of several senior officials, including Bouteflika’s powerful brother and advisor Said.

Said has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiracy against the state.

After Algeria gained independence from France in 1962, former President Bouteflika became Algeria’s first foreign minister and an influential figure in the non-aligned movement that gave Africa, Asia and Latin America a global voice.

As President of the UN General Assembly, Bouteflika invited former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to address the panel in 1974, a historic step towards international recognition of the Palestinian cause.

He also demanded a seat for China in the United Nations and railed against apartheid rule in South Africa.

Champion for independence from colonizers

He advocated post-colonial states, challenged the hegemony of the United States, and helped his country establish a seedbed of 1960s idealism.

He also greeted Che Guevara, and a young Nelson Mandela received his first education in Algeria. Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, on the run from US police, was given refuge.

In the early 1980s, after the death of ex-president Houari Boumediene, Bouteflika went into exile and settled in Dubai, where he became an advisor to a member of the ruling family of the emirate.

He returned home in the 1990s when Algeria was ravaged by a war between the army and armed Islamist militants in which at least 200,000 people were killed.

Elected president in 1999, he managed to negotiate a ceasefire with Islamists and initiate a national reconciliation process that enabled the country to restore peace.

Bouteflika entered the war of independence against France at the age of 19 as a protégé of commandant Boumediene, who became president in 1965.

After independence, Bouteflika became Minister for Youth and Tourism at the age of 25. The following year he became foreign minister.

Little is known about his personal life, with official records not mentioning a woman, although some reports say a marriage took place in 1990. Bouteflika lived for years with his mother Mansouriah in an apartment in Algiers, where she prepared his meals.

Bouteflika had used oil and gas revenues to alleviate internal discontent and the state he governed became more peaceful and prosperous, allowing him to halt for a while the “Arab Spring” riots that overthrew the region’s leaders in 2011 to bypass.

However, corruption flourished and Algerians became increasingly angry at the political and economic freeze, fueling the mass protests that eventually brought an end to Bouteflika’s presidency.


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