Africa

Algeria's Bouteflika quits after protests

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Algeria's 82-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has resigned after weeks of mass protests in the North African country, the state news agency reports.

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned, succumbing to a groundswell of pressure after weeks of protests against his 20-year rule.

The ailing 82-year-old leader announced he was standing down in a statement carried by state news agency APS on Tuesday, shortly after the army chief of staff demanded action to remove him from office.

On Monday Bouteflika, in poor health and rarely seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013, said he would quit before the end of his term on April 28.

But chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah said that statement had been issued by "unconstitutional and unauthorised parties," APS said.

"There is no more room to waste time," APS quoted Salah saying.

Algerian people celebrate on the streets after Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has submitted his resignation
Algerian people celebrate on the streets after Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has submitted his resignation. (AAP)
EPA

Hundreds of Algerians took to the streets of capital Algiers after Bouteflika's resignation, waving Algerian flags or driving in convoys through the city centre, where on February 22 mass protests broke out.

Someone held up a banner saying: "Game over."

Pressure had been building during the day, with opposition groups demanding Bouteflika go immediately while students marched through Algiers to demand the replacement of a system seen as incapable of reform.

"Bouteflika's decision (to resign by the end of his term) will change nothing," Mustapha Bouchachi, a lawyer and protest leader, told Reuters on Tuesday.

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Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigns
Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigns

Bouteflika's resignation will put Abdelkader Bensalah, chairman of the upper house of parliament, in charge as caretaker president for 90 days until elections.

Bouchachi had suggested Bouteflika's nomination of a caretaker government was a move to perpetuate the current political system.

A veteran of Algeria's war for independence, Bouteflika was first elected president in 1999 and established himself by ending a civil war with Islamist militants that killed an estimated 200,000 people.

But the country remains mired in corruption and, in a sign the end of Bouteflika's rule was approaching, several oligarchs close to his camp were banned from travelling abroad in the past few days.

"The gang has made big money illegally taking advantage of its closeness with decision-makers," Salah said, according to APS.

The protests have been driven by the country's youth and lawyers demanding the removal of a ruling elite seen by many as out of touch with ordinary Algerians and presiding over an economy riven by cronyism.

Bouteflika said he'd take important decisions to ensure "continuity of the state's institutions" before stepping down in a statement on Monday.

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