The former president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has died at age 84, Algerian state TV announced late on Friday evening following a statement from the presidency.
He served as president for nearly 20 years, from 1999 until his resignation in 2019. He was the longest serving head of state in Algeria.
Of his four electoral victories, all but one was marred by fraud and widespread irregularities.
Bouteflika stepped down in 2019 under pressure from the army and protesters who rejected his plan for a fifth presidential term.
“I have decided to make substantial amendments in the government formation as soon as possible. Such amendments will be an appropriate response to the demands that have come from you,” Bouteflika said in announcing his decision not to run at the time.
After nearly 20 years in office, scandals involving corruption around oil and gas and infrastructure deals consumed his inner circle. Many of his closest associates remain in prison.
Bouteflika’s bid to try and run for a fifth term sparked mass demonstrations against the longtime leader
Bouteflika was a veteran of Algeria’s war of independence who became the country’s first foreign minister at age 25 upon independence from colonial power France.
Bouteflika helped settle and unite his nation ravaged by civil war that claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 in the 1990s.
In 2013, Bouteflika suffered a stroke and was rarely seen in public — prompting speculation about the state of his health for years.
ar/rs (AFP, dpa, Reuters)