Algerians have reacted positively to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation late Tuesday following weeks of popular protests against his continued rule.
Ali Benflis, head of the Talae al-Hurriyat opposition party, expressed his thorough satisfaction with the end of the era of Bouteflika, who was a symbol of corruption and tyranny.
Benflis, who since 2004 has been regarded as one of Bouteflika’s main political rivals, also commended the army for demanding that the aging leader step down.
Together, the people and army registered a major achievement, manifested in the peaceful nature of the anti-Bouteflika demonstrations, he said.
Abderrazak Makri, leader of the Movement of Society for Peace, Algeria’s largest Islamic party, described the president’s resignation as a major step forward.
Bouteflika, his brother ‘Said Bouteflika’, his gang and his supporters are all responsible for Algeria’s current disastrous situation, Makri tweeted Wednesday.
Asserting that badly-needed reforms would not be easy, Makri stressed the need to ensure free and fair presidential elections.
Soufiane Djilali, for his part, leader of Algeria’s New Generation Party, described Bouteflika’s departure as a victory for the people.
He went on to warn, however, that the state was still run by what he described as Bouteflika’s people and laws, emphasizing the need to promote genuinely democratic governance.
Mohcine Belabbas, head of the Rally for Culture and Democracy Party, said Algeria must learn from the past so as to avoid making more mistakes.
He added that those who had promoted constitutional changes in 2008 which eliminated presidential term limits must now depart along with Bouteflika.
Even the National Democratic Party, a coalition partner of Bouteflika’s ruling National Liberation Front (NLF), welcomed Tuesday’s resignation, describing the move as a constitutional solution.
On Tuesday evening, the 82-year-old Bouteflika announced his resignation following weeks of popular demonstrations against his continued rule.
In his resignation letter, Bouteflika said his decision to step down — some three weeks before the expiry of his fourth term in office was aimed at averting a crisis.
The move, he added, was intended to put people’s minds at ease so they might collectively take Algeria to the future they aspire to.
Notably, Bouteflika announced the decision only hours after Army Chief-of-Staff Ahmed Gaid Saleh demanded his immediate departure based on certain constitutional articles.
Our decision is clear and irreversible,” Saleh had said Tuesday. We will stand with the people until their demands are met.
In February, the ruling NLF nominated the 82-year-old Bouteflika, who has ruled Algeria since 1999, to run for a fifth term in office.
In mid-March, after weeks of protests against his planned presidential bid, Bouteflika abruptly postponed the poll originally slated for April 18 and formally withdrew his candidacy.
But demonstrations continued against the embattled leader, who critics accused of planning to unconstitutionally extend his fourth term in office.
Following the announcement of Bouteflika’s resignation Tuesday evening, thousands of Algerians took to the streets in different parts of the country to express their happiness with the move.