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Algeria's Bouteflika says he will not run for fifth term, postpones presidential elections

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Algeria's Bouteflika says he will not run for fifth term, postpones presidential elections
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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika bowed to protesters on Monday announcing that he will not run for a fifth term and that the elections planned for April 18 will be postponed, Euronews has confirmed.

The Presidency also announced that a government reshuffle would take place soon but failed to mention when the election would take place.

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has also resigned, Ennahar TV reported, adding that Noureddine Bedoui — the Interior Minister since 2015 — has been named as the new prime minister.

Bouteflika has been at the helm of the North African country since 1999. The announcement that he intended to run for office for a fifth term triggered widespread protests in the country — now in their third week.

A new constitution is to be submitted to voters in a referendum, the presidency also announced, adding that Bouteflika is currently meeting with the army chief of staff.

It comes just a day after Bouteflika, 82, returned from Switzerland, where he spent two weeks in a hospital, and just hours after more than 1,000 judges said they would refuse to oversee the election if Bouteflika was on the ballot.

Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013 and has rarely been seen in public since.

France said it welcomed Bouteflika's decision not to seek a fifth term and to "take measures to renew Algeria's political system."

"Following large demonstrations, that took place peacefully and in a dignified manner across Algeria, France expresses its hope that a new dynamic that responds to the aspirations of the Algerian people can get under way quickly," Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian added in a statement.

People in Algeria have taken to the streets to celebrate the President's announcement.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
Algiers, Algeria March 11, 2019.REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
Algiers, Algeria March 11, 2019.REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra