Indeed a humiliating way for infirm Bouteflika to leave office, he who nurtured hope to die President by pressuring for a constitutional reform to enable him to exceed two terms and by seeking a fifth term which was aborted on the back of popular protests.
The resignation was announced by state news agency APS hours after powerful Algerian army chief Gaid Salah demanded the immediate stepping down of Bouteflika, describing his inner circle as a gang that enriched themselves at the expense of the Algerian state and people.
“Our decision is clear and irrevocable. We will support the people until their demands are fully and completely satisfied,” Gaid Salah said in the statement written with a menacing tone.
Bouteflika ruled Algeria for twenty years. He is perceived as the man who restored peace after a decade of a bloody civil war opposing Islamists to the army. The civil war left 200,000 dead.
Since suffering a stroke in 2013, Bouteflika’s public appearances have become rare as he was confined to a wheelchair, leading many to question his ability to rule while some go as far as saying that his brother Said is pulling the strings of the Algerian state.
Since taking power, Bouteflika sought to gradually undermine the intervention of the army in Algerian politics but the sidelining of the army with the popular demand pulled the rug from under the feet of the supporters of Bouteflika.
The Algerian regime is made up of clans including senior ruling party FLN leaders, Army generals and business tycoons. Although they tend to disagree, they have all an interest in maintaining an opaque oil-rich regime perceived as corrupt and incapable of carrying out genuine reforms.
For now, the army reaffirms its status as the ultimate Kingmaker in Algeria.