Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned with immediate effect, according to state media, ceding power in the face of massive street protests against his 20-year rule.
The ailing, 82-year-old leader announced he was stepping down in a letter published by APS news agency on Tuesday, just hours after the army chief demanded immediate action to remove him from office.
“My intention … is to contribute to calming down the souls and minds of the citizens so that they can collectively take Algeria to the better future they aspire to,” Bouteflika said in the letter to the president of the Constitutional Council.
“I have made this decision to avoid and prevent the arguments which distort, unfortunately, the current situation, and avoid its turning into serious skirmishes, to ensure the protection of persons and property,” he added.
The anti-Bouteflika protests broke out in late February when the longtime president, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced a plan to seek a fifth term in elections scheduled for April and later abandoning the re-election bid on March 11 due to massive protests which followed for several weeks.