The President of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has in a turn of events withdrawn from the Presidential race, citing his old age and sickly health condition.
He has also postponed the election which was earlier scheduled for April 18 to a date he said Cabinet will decide.
Bouteflika, 82, who has ruled Algeria for more than 20 years suffered a stroke in 2013, and had just returned from a Geneva Hospital where he was treated for an undisclosed ailment. He has not made a public speech in a very long time.
“There will be no fifth term,” Bouteflika said in a statement.
“There was never any question of it for me. Given my state of health and age, my last duty towards the Algerian people was always contributing to the foundation of a new Republic,” he added.
Before the announcement of Bouteflika’s withdrawal from the race, over 1,000 judges in Algeria announced that they will not oversea the Presidential election should Bouteflika choose to stand.
Last week, tens of thousands of Algerians thronged the streets demanding that the ailing leader steps down, prompting Bouteflika to promise that he would step down early if re-elected. However, his promise didn’t calm down the protestors who held flags and flooded into the squares around the capital.
A number of lawmakers from his ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party resigned in protest and joined the protesters with some stalwart Bouteflika supporters and party members coming out to support the protesters, clearly showing the discontent within his government.
The Algerian army had earlier indicated that the military and the people had a united vision of the future.