Longtime Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced Monday that he will not seek a fifth term in office, but a delay in elections has left some protesters upset.
Bouteflika, 82, has ruled the country for 20 years, but a stroke in 2013 left him in a wheelchair as questions about his health swirled. He was listed as the lone serious candidate for the April 18 elections.
“There will be no fifth term and there has never been any question for me, since my health condition and my age assign me as an ultimate duty, to the Algerian people; the contribution to the foundations of a new Republic as part of the new Algerian system that we all strive for,” Bouteflika said in a statement in the state-run Algeria Press Service.
While acknowledging the protests demanding new leadership, Bouteflika said he plans to make “capital changes within the government in the near future” in response to the demonstrations before leaving office. He said an independent national conference will be held to draft a new constitution that will face a national referendum, possibly by the end of the year.
“Finally, I pledge to hand over the prerogatives of the president of the republic to the successor that the Algerian people will freely elect,” he continued.
Bouteflika loyalist Nourredine Bedoui, who has served as interior minister since 2015, replaced Ahmed Ouyahia as prime minister before the announcement, Al Jazeera reported. Another close presidential ally, Ramtane Lamamra, was named deputy prime minister by presidential decree.
“This is not a victory for the people because Bouteflika’s measures are not consistent with the people’s will,” Abderrahmane, cofounder of the Warda Project non-governmental organization, told Al Jazeera about the announcement.