Algeria's Bouteflika: highlights in a long presidency

Friday January 18 2019

Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika meets with the French prime minister at his residence during an official visit on April 10, 2016 in Zeralda, a suburb of the capital Algiers. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG | AFP 

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika Friday issued a decree calling much anticipated presidential elections for April 18.

Here are the highlights of his long stint as president of the North African country.

- April 15, 1999: Backed by the army, he wins presidential elections after all six of his rivals withdraw, alleging rampant fraud.

Algeria had been battered since 1992 by a civil war prompted by the sudden cancellation of elections the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win.

- September 16, 1999: Algerians overwhelmingly approve a referendum on Bouteflika's civil reconciliation programme which offers partial amnesty to Islamic extremists involved in the conflict, in which at least 150,000 people died.

Some 15,000 Islamists finally laid down their arms and a state of emergency is lifted in 2011.

- April 9, 2009: After changing the constitution to allow himself another five years in office following two mandates, he wins a third term with 90 percent of the votes.

- January 2011: Food riots erupt amid the regional upheaval of the Arab Spring and five people are killed and more than 800 injured.

It pushes Bouteflika to announce political reforms in April but the opposition says the measures are insufficient.

- April-July 2013: Bouteflika spends almost three months in hospital in Paris after suffering a mini-stroke. He will make several hospital stays in Europe in the future.

- April 17, 2014: He is re-elected for a fourth term with 81.5 percent of the vote, despite not campaigning and voting from a wheelchair.

His announcement in February that he would run for office was met with opposition from senior military officers and protests as his poor health stoked doubts over his ability to govern.

- January 30, 2016: He tightens his grip on power by disbanding the DRS intelligence agency, considered by many a "state within a state".

Its chief, the powerful Mohamed Mediene, had been already been fired months earlier.

- October 28, 2018: After calls from the presidential camp for Bouteflika to stand for a fifth term, his National Liberation Front party says he will be their candidate at the April 2019 election.

- January 18, 2019: Bouteflika issues decree setting April 18, 2019 as the date of the presidential elections.