Algeria’s Bouteflika abandons re-election bid after weeks of protest


ALGIERS – Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika abandoned his bid for a fifth term in power yesterday, bowing to weeks of mass demonstrations against his 20-year rule by people demanding a new era of politics in a country dominated by an old guard. The veteran revolutionary also postponed an election that had been set for April, and promised social and economic reform.

Bouteflika’s announcement brought crowds back onto the streets in celebration on Monday evening. Hundreds of people, young and old, some draped in the national flag, jumped up and down with excitement. Cars beeped their horns in approval.

“Our protests have borne fruit! We defeated the supporters of the fifth term!” said taxi-driver Mohamed Kaci, 50. However, Bouteflika stopped short of immediately stepping down and will remain in power for some time yet, pending a national conference on political change.(Reuters)…[+]