Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned after weeks of massive streets protests and prompts jubilation in Algiers. Still, many consider that the rallies will continue to fight against the whole government.
Pressure had been building ever since February, when the first demonstrations were sparked by Mr Bouteflika’s announcement that he would be standing for a fifth term. In just under six weeks, they had forced Bouteflika to cancel his bid for this fifth term in office and relinquish power. Even the army had stepped in and call for the 82 year old to declare himself incapable of carrying out his duties any longer.
Protesters had staged huge demonstrations for six weeks, calling for Mr Bouteflika’s departure, but they are seeking broader regime change and are unlikely to be satisfied if the old regime survives under a new president.
The news was received with joy and happiness
After the announcement, people changed their whole status as hundreds started celebrating. People waved Algeria’s national flags and sang.
“God willing, we will have a 100% democratic transition, this is very important. We need to remove the whole previous regime and that is the hardest thing.”one of the protesters declared to Reuters
“This feels new. Personally, this will be the first new president I’ve experienced,” “I’m happy, I’m excited and I’m scared. But most importantly, I’m determined. This is just a first step. We’ll keep going until we have fair, transparent elections and a new government.”said Nourhane Atmani, a 20-year-old student from Algiers, who took part in the protests calling for Bouteflika’s overthrow.
However, one protest leader, Mustapha Bouchachi, said before the announcement that any decision by Mr Bouteflika to quit still aren’t going to make that big of a difference and that the protests should still be carried out.
Protocol after president’s resignation in Algeria
Under the country’s constitution, the speaker of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, will run the country as interim leader for a maximum of 90 days until new elections are held. The news site reports that Bensalah has been a Bouteflika loyalist and has taken Bouteflika’s place at public events. Bensalah has been leader of the upper house since 2002.
Bouteflika had appointed a caretaker government on Sunday, consisting of 27 ministers and headed by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, another ally of Bouteflika.
But demonstrations are likely to continue as protesters reject any continuation of a government that bears the influence of Bouteflika and his allies.
There were accusations that Mr Bouteflika was being used as a front by “le pouvoir” – a group of businessmen, politicians and military officials – to retain their power.
Elections originally scheduled for 18 April were postponed and the governing National Liberation Front (FLN) vowed to organise a national conference on reforms.
The FLN has ruled Algeria since the country won independence from France in 1962 after seven years of conflict.
Mr Bouteflika, who came to power in 1999, strengthened his grip after a bloody civil war against Islamist insurgents which left 150,000 dead.
The chairman of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, is expected to become caretaker president for three months until elections.
The protests have been driven by the country’s youth and lawyers demanding the removal of a ruling elite seen by many as out of touch with ordinary Algerians.