Macron Salutes Bouteflika's Decision to Revoke Presidential Bid Amid Protests

Algerians told the Dzair News channel they wanted "full change" to the government rather than "superficial regulations" as announced Monday by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Many protesters view Bouteflika's decision as a manoeuvre to stifle the protest movement and to maintain the status quo, at least temporarily.

This is all too distant and too vague for many Algerians, especially the young, who are seeking real change to an ossified political system dominated by opaque cliques of officials, businessmen and politicians amid soaring unemployment, widespread corruption and a chronic shortage of accommodation.

"When you think about it, what Bouteflika wrote is basically something we rejected before", she said. "This is not a football match". He promised to appoint a new leadership structure to plan a rescheduled vote.

In a "letter to the nation", the 82-year-old leader said that he "understands the motivations of the many people who chose this method of expression", referring to the protests that have been taking place in Algeria.

The protesters, who chanted "No tricks, Bouteflika", had responded to calls on social media to continue the protests.

"There is no legal basis to delay the elections", said Fatiha Benabou, a professor at Algiers University and expert on constitutional matters.

Algerian president back home amid mass protests against him
Algerian president returns home after 'routine medical checks' in Geneva

Algerians have shown they are no longer willing to accept the status quo, and that will undoubtedly extend to close scrutiny of how the next election plays out.

"We have taken to the streets today to protest a fifth presidential term".

"I believe it profoundly", replied Algeria's newly named vice prime minister, Ramtane Lamamra, who some speculate might succeed Bouteflika as president, when asked whether his country was marking a turning point.

Bouteflika managed to remain in power as the 2011 "Arab Spring" uprising toppled autocrats in neighboring countries mainly because Algeria had enough foreign reserves to boost state spending.

"I salute President Bouteflika's decision, which marks a new page [of the Algerian history, ]" Macron said at a press conference with Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, as quoted by the Algerie 1 news outlet. It will oversee the transition, drafting a new constitution and setting the date for elections.

The Algerian government did not immediately announce the goal of the flight but it was likely that the plane came to collect the 82-year-old leader, who has been receiving medical treatment at the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG). "Those in power want to stay and proof of this is that the interior minister has become the prime minister", one message said.

Former culture minister Abdelaziz Rahabi tweeted that Bouteflika was "ridiculing the people".

  • Rogelio Becker