Abdelaziz Bouteflika, former Algerian president, dies aged 84

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, former Algerian president, dies aged 84

Algeria’s longest-serving president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned in 2019 amid pro-democracy protests after two decades in power, has died aged 84.

Bouteflika was born on 2 March 1937, to Algerian parents in the border town of Oujda, Morocco. In 1956, he joined the National Liberation Army in the war against French rule. After Algeria’s independence in 1962, Bouteflika became the country’s first foreign minister at just 25.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika is the fifth President of Algeria. After Algeria became independent, he joined the then President, Ahmed Ben Bella’s cabinet as Minister for Youth and Sport, and was subsequently appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs at the age of 25. He did not fall out of favor when Bella was replaced in a military coup by Houari Boumédienne. Accused of corruption charges, he went into a long self-imposed exile. The charges against him were dropped, and he returned to Algeria. He won three consecutive presidential elections.

He also tried to address development issues with his five year plans. They were aimed at creating new jobs, and also putting the necessary infrastructure at place. Regarding his foreign policy, he ended Algeria’s isolation. While he tried to improve Algeria’s relations with the Western powers, he was assertive on matters that were crucial to his country’s defense interests. After becoming the president for a third straight term, he brought amendments which allowed presidents to stand in elections any number of times.

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