For over a month the streets of Algiers and most of the country’s other towns and cities have been filled by hundreds of thousands – and in some cases millions – of demonstrators. They have been demanding an end to not only President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s rule but also the current political system.
Bouteflika, who has been incapacitated since a stroke in 2013, has run the country since 1999. Until the widespread national protests he was virtually certain to be re-elected this month for an unprecedented fifth consecutive four year term. This week, however, he and his clan have finally succumbed to overwhelming pressure from both the people and the army.
In an unprecedented move, Bouteflika has now officially announced that he will step down before his current term ends on 28 April. The Senate head, who was appointed by the Presidency, will act as the country’s interim leader before presidential elections are held.
The people are, however, demanding the wholesale change of the political system rather than just a new president. The question now is therefore not ‘who’ will succeed Bouteflika but ‘what’ will replace him, and what will it mean for Algeria’s future.
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