Former Algerian president Abdelaziz Outeflika dies

Former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died aged 84, state television announced Friday.

Mr Bouteflika fought for independence from France, reconciled his conflict-ravaged nation and was then ousted amid pro-democracy protests in 2019 after two decades in power.

The report on ENTV, citing a statement from the office of current president Abdelmadjid Tebboune, did not provide the cause of death or information about funeral arrangements.

Mr Bouteflika had suffered a stroke in 2013 that badly weakened him. Concerns about his state of health, kept secret from the Algerian public, helped feed public frustration with his 20-year, corruption-tarnished rule. Mass public protests by the Hirak movement led to his departure.

An astute political chameleon, Mr Bouteflika had been known as a wily survivor ever since he fought for independence from colonial ruler France in the 1950s and 1960s.

He stood up to Henry Kissinger as Algeria’s long-serving foreign minister, successfully negotiated with the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal to free oil ministers taken hostage in a 1975 attack on OPEC headquarters, and helped reconcile Algerian citizens with each other after a decade of civil war between radical Muslim militants and Algeria’s security forces.

“I’m a nonconformist politician. I’m a revolutionary,” Mr Bouteflika told The Associated Press on the eve of his first presidential victory in 1999, after a campaign tarnished by fraud charges that drove his six rivals to pull out of the vote. –AP

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