Bouteflika, who is 82 years old, made his announcement one day after returning from Switzerland, where he had undergone a medical checkup in connection with a stroke he suffered a stroke in 2013. He has since been wheelchair-bound.
Thousands of Algerian students are taking part in rallies at the Place Maurice Audin and near the central post office in the country's capital of Algiers, the TSA media outlet reported. Protesters shouted slogans such as "No to term extension" and "We don't want [Noureddine] Bedoui," the former interior minister who replaced former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia after the latter resigned amid protests.
In the northern Algerian port city of Bejaia students took to the streets alongside employees of the state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach. Bejaia's transport companies continued their strike for the third consecutive day.
Three Weeks That Changed Everything
Opponents of his nomination, mostly young people, argued that due to his state of health, the president would be unable to effectively govern the country, which has a population of more than 40 million people and tackle the various economic and political problems that Algeria has been facing. Demonstrators demanded that the vote is postponed, while also calling for radical reforms.
People writing down their demands and wishes on papers, and sticking them on the wall of the public library in Audin, Algiers center.— Madjid (@madjidbensah) 12 марта 2019 г.
(Rois et reines sans trône, pharaons et fantômes) cc @youssouphamusik #لا_لتمديد_العهدة_الرابعة #5emeMandat #Alger #Algeria #2e_Republique 🇩🇿 pic.twitter.com/KYX3tptuXc
The protest movement in Algeria did not have leaders or even organisers. Opposition political parties and trade unions have failed to mobilize as effectively as these demonstrators, whose main weapon has been social media.
"These were difficult days, there were no official strikes, but in fact, there were acts of disobedience", a resident of the Algerian capital told Sputnik over the phone.
In recent days most of the shops were closed, while children did not go to school, according to him.
"Many people simply came to their workplaces but did not work in protest. At the same time, nobody tells you what to do, people make decisions on their own," he added.
The president and his entourage tried to soften the situation with half measures, but the "street" rejected the compromises. As a result, Bouteflika had to pledge in a written statement that if was re-elected on April 18, he would call a snap vote and not seek a new term to ensure the transition of power to a new president within a year.
But after a few days, a record number of people took to the streets disapproving of his minor concessions.
Way Forward to the Second Republic
On Monday, the head of Algeria satisfied all the basic demands of the demonstrators, announcing in his message that he "would not run for a fifth term" and that "the election scheduled for April 18 would be postponed."
"There will be no fifth term", Bouteflika said.
Moreover, the longtime leader promised his fellow citizens a "new republic" that would be built by new generations of Algerians.
Now, according to the president’s statement, an "inclusive national conference" will be set up instead of the election. It would draft a new constitution and set a date for the presidential election. The basic law will be up for approval in a national referendum.
"I pledge to hand over the duties of the president of the republic to my successor, who will be freely chosen by the Algerian people", the head of state said.
At the same time, Bouteflika has pledged to do everything to ensure that all state structures work in accordance with the country’s constitution during the transitional period.
After Bouteflika’s statement on Monday evening, many Algerians took to the streets to celebrate the president's decision to withdraw his bid for re-election and launch major reforms. However, as indicated by the opposition news outlet El Watan, Algerian society has yet to assess the impact of Monday's developments.
As many Algerians already live in a 'post- Bouteflika' period and seek change in the entire political system, not everyone will find Bouteflika’s proposal convincing, according to the media outlet.