The President of Algeria, Abduleziz Bouteflika, has withdrawn from the race to become President for the fifth time, leading to an outburst of celebrations in the country.
Algerians have taken to the streets in celebration of Abduleziz Bouteflika’s decision to opt out of the race for a fifth term as President of the country. The joy experienced by locals in Algeria stems from the unprecedented nature of Bouteflika’s decision to adhere to the message of the protest – thus proving to protesters that they do indeed have the power to make changes to the national political system through their voice.
“We wanted to change him and bring someone young. None of our presidents has been under 60 years old, so we wanted to change this and bring someone who can understand and relate to us”, said a man celebrating on the streets of Algiers after Bouteflika’s announcement.
Bouteflika also postponed the date of the presidential elections, which were set to take place on 18 April. In addition, he made a couple of new appointments in his cabinet – Nour al-Din Badawi has replaced Ahmed Ouyahia as Prime Minister, while Ramtan al-Amamra has been made Deputy Prime Minister – and announced that new political reforms will be implemented.
This is not, however, the first time that Bouteflika has listened to the demands of the Algerian people. In 2011, as protests spread across the Arab World against their respective governments, Algerians too took to the streets to demonstrate against their long-serving President. Bouteflika reacted by distributing food subsidies to the people in an attempt to assuage the detrimental consequences of the ailing economy. This move was above to alleviate some of the concerns that were raised by the Algerian people.
However, sustainable and structural changes were not made. Algerians are now aware of this, and so their protests are continuing. The world is waiting with anticipation to see what new demands Algerians will have, especially during protests on the coming Friday, seeing as they are not satisfied with Bouteflika’s short-term concessions.