Algeria's Bouteflika Withdraws Candidacy for Fifth Presidential Term

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Algeria's Bouteflika Withdraws Candidacy for Fifth Presidential Term

Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced on Monday that he will drop his candidacy for a fifth term as the president of Algeria, thus yielding to popular pressure after weeks of protests that were demanding him to step down.

The 82-year-old Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999, made the announcement in a "letter to the nation" released by his office, also postponing the presidential elections that were slated for April 18.

The state-run Algeria Press Service (APS) quoted Bouteflika as promising an interim leadership structure to plan new elections, adding that a new president would be elected after a national conference on political and constitutional reform is held by the end of 2019.

Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi will chair the conference, a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.

The conference will be attended by demonstrators’ representatives as well as participants from Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war, the source added.

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".

A government reshuffle would take place soon as well after Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia resigned shortly after Bouteflika's announcement.

Noureddine Bedoui has been appointed as his successor, Ennahar TV reported on Monday.