Algiers — Participating in his own battle against French colonial rule in the 1950s, Abdelaziz Bouteflika was promoted to foreign minister at the age of 26, exiled on suspicion of corruption, and then returned to help lead the country out of the civil war. The state television reported. On Friday. He was 84 years old.
Exiled from the presidency in 2019, Bouteflika led Algeria for 20 years, longer than any of his predecessors.
After suffering a stroke in early 2013, he spent two and a half months in a French military hospital and recovered for many more months.
After the stroke, Bouteflika was rarely seen in public or on television, leaving many with the impression that the country was governed by his inner circle, suspected of many corruption scandals.
Despite his health problems, he insisted on running for the fourth term in the April 2014 elections. This was a decision to divide the ruling class elite, army, and national intelligence. Algeria’s major opposition refused to participate in the elections, and when he returned to power with 81% of the votes, they refused to acknowledge the outcome.
Nevertheless, Mr Bouteflika maintained his power, arbitrated by written instructions, and sometimes accepted foreign officials.
Protests broke out in late February 2019 when Bouteflika was announced to run for the fifth term in the elections scheduled for April 18. “There is no fifth term!” In news reports that he left the country for a medical test in Geneva.
By April of that year, public unrest forced him to resign.
He was born to Algerian parents on March 2, 1937 in Uja, Morocco, and was a French protectorate at the time. I grew up there and went to school. (His Moroccan beginnings were usually not mentioned in his official Algerian biography.)
At the age of 20, he joined the National Liberation Army in a rebellion against the French colonial regime in Algeria, serving the so-called border forces operating from Moroccan territory. He became a close assistant to the revolutionary leader Hua Lee Boumedien.
After Algeria gained independence in 1962, Mr. Bouteflika was appointed Minister of Youth Sports of the Government of Ahmed Benbella, who was elected the first president of Algeria. He led an Algerian delegation in 1963 to negotiate with France and was appointed Foreign Minister that year.
In 1965 he was an important actor in a bloodless coup led by Mr. Boumedien, who defeated President Benbella. Mr. Boumedien was in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until his death in December 1978. He was a talented and dashing foreign minister, leading anti-colonial and non-interfering policies and making Algeria stand out as the leader of the unaligned movement. And a founding member of the African Union.
For some time, he was mentioned as a candidate to succeed Mr. Boumedien until he was arrested for misappropriating millions of dollars from the Foreign Ministry’s budget and brought to justice by the Board of Audit and Inspection. He decided to go into exile abroad for six years-or was forced-.
Returning to Algeria in 1987, he rejoined the Central Committee of the National Liberation Front, the political arm of the independence movement. But he remained behind the scenes throughout most of the 1990s when military and intelligence figures ruled the government during the Algerian war with Islamic rebels.
The uprising began when the government canceled elections to avoid overwhelming victory over the Islamic Salvation Front (also known as the French abbreviation FIS).
As the civil war ended, Bouteflika returned to the forefront. He ran for president in 1999 and is the only candidate to remain standing after six rivals protested and withdrew, saying the election situation was unfair. I noticed.
As president, he promoted the concept of “national reconciliation” and imposed virtually amnesty on all adversaries of the war, whether Islamists or members of the armed forces. Both sides were accused by human rights groups of committing atrocities during the war, killing an estimated 200,000 Algerians.
Bouteflika then won three more times in the final elections in April 2014, after the constitution was amended to allow elections with no term restrictions. His supporters praise him for restoring peace and security in the country after a decade of catastrophic war, suggesting that he is the only one who can unite the country in the aftermath. bottom. Opponents blamed economic stagnation and increased corruption and favoritism as his rules grew longer, and eventually refused to give up power when his health was deteriorating. Was criticized for being selfish.
Nevertheless, he ensured that Algeria would continue to have a significant influence on regional affairs in North Africa, worked cautiously with France and the United States on regional anti-terrorism strategies, and neighbors of Mali, Libya and Tunisia. Helped mediate conflict and political instability in France.
Amir Jalal Zerdoumi reported from Carlotta Gall in Algiers, Algeria, and Istanbul.