Bouteflika Withdraws From Re-Election, Algerians Celebrate in Streets

Macron urges'reasonable transition period in Algeria

Macron urges'reasonable transition period in Algeria

Interior minister Noureddine Bedoui is named prime minister and is tasked with forming a new government.

"We were waiting for the Algerian power to find a ruse to stay in place", said North Africa analyst Khadija Mohsen-Finan of the French Institute for worldwide and Strategic Affairs, suggesting this is exactly what happened.

Monday marked the biggest jolt, when 82-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika renounced a fifth presidential term, reshuffled his government, proclaimed the drafting of a new constitution and rescheduled presidential elections initially set for April to an unspecified date.

On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of the capital carrying the Algerian flag and chanting: "Bouteflika, there will be no fifth term".

- March 11, Bouteflika withdraws his bid for a fifth term and postpones the April 18 election.

On Sunday, President Bouteflika returned from Switzerland where he had been receiving medical treatment.

France, home to a large Algerian population and with close economic ties to its former colony, has been watching the protests closely.

Algerian teenagers and lawyers held protests Monday, and workers held scattered walkouts, as their tense nation waits to see whether ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika offers any concessions in the face of unprecedented protests. "I'm both happy and confused because there's still so much more that needs to happen", said Nourhane Atmani, a student who took part in the protests.

Earlier on Monday, some 1,000 judges said they would not oversee the election if Bouteflika ran, and religious leaders declared their intention to oppose him.

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It was unclear on Monday evening whether the strike would continue, but some protesters pledged to maintain pressure on the government by demonstrating again on Friday this week.

Emmanuel Macron, president of Algeria's former colonial ruler France, said Bouteflika's decision opened a new chapter and called for a "reasonable duration" to the transition period.

He said new polls would be held at an unspecified date to be decided by a "national conference" - effectively extending his mandate.

Mr Bouteflika vowed in his message "to hand over the duties and prerogatives of the president of the republic to the successor freely chosen by the Algerian people".

The change was announced days before Algeria's Constitutional Council was due to certify the legitimacy of candidates running for the presidency.

Lack of job opportunities is a key concern for young Algerians, many of whom take risky illegal journeys across the Mediterranean to seek work in Europe.

Ghania Bellal, a journalism student, said Bouteflika "is mocking us".

Many Algerians were concerned about his ailing health, and anxious that his death in office during a fifth term might cause risky political instability.

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