Former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died.
The Algerian government made the announcement, saying the 84-year-old Bouteflika passed away on Friday. He had lived in a care home outside of Algiers since leaving office in 2019.
The longtime politician and National Liberation Front leader had been in poor health for nearly a decade. He suffered a stroke in 2013 and was rarely seen in public, leaving many Algerians and international observers to speculate often on who was really running the country during those years.
Bouteflika’s trips for medical care in Europe, along with his age and infirmity, led to an outcry after he said he was seeking a fifth presidential term. Algerians argued that Bouteflika, in office for two decades by 2019, had been in power long enough.
The president’s refusal to step down led to widespread protests in Algiers, Oran and other cities. While the primary reason for the Algerian protests was Bouteflika, they sparked a youth-driven “hirak” movement that called for broad political and economic change. It was similar to the protests seen in Morocco and other northern African nations.
In the face of the protests, Bouteflika promised national dialogue and constitutional reform, youth inclusion, and the “equitable redistribution of national wealth,” as well as measures to end bribery and corruption. Ultimately, though, he was persuaded to resign in response to calls even from within his own party.
Algerian officials have not yet provided details about memorial plans for Bouteflika.
Image: Bouteflika 2017 file