Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika dies at 84

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Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika died aged 84, the presidency said on Friday, more than two years after he resigned under pressure from mass protests and the military.

Bouteflika, a veteran of Algeria’s war of independence, had ruled the North African country for two decades before his resignation in April 2019 after street demonstrations that rejected his plan to seek a fifth term.

He had rarely been seen in public before his departure since he suffered a stroke in 2013.

Following Bouteflika’s resignation, in an attempt to end protests demanding political and economic reforms, authorities launched unprecedented investigations into corruption, which led to the imprisonment of several senior officials, including Bouteflika’s powerful brother and adviser, Said.

After Algeria’s independence from France in 1962, former President Bouteflika became Algeria’s Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs and an influential figure in the Non-Aligned Movement.

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

He also demanded that China be given a seat in the United Nations and criticized the apartheid regime in South Africa.

In the early 1980s, he went into exile following the death of former President Houari Boumediene and settled in Dubai, where he became an advisor to a member of the emirate’s ruling family.

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

Elected president in 1999, he managed to negotiate a truce with the Islamists and launched a national reconciliation process that allowed the country to restore peace.

(REUTERS)