Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died at 84, the presidency said on Friday, more than two years after he stepped down under pressure from mass protests and the army.
Bouteflika, a veteran of Algeria’s war for independence, had ruled the North African country for two decades before his resignation in April 2019 after street demonstrations rejecting his plan to seek a fifth term.
He had rarely been seen in public before his departure since a stroke in 2013.
After Bouteflika’s resignation, in a bid to end the protests demanding political and economic reforms, authorities launched unprecedented investigations into corruption, leading to the imprisonment of several senior officials, including Bouteflika’s powerful brother and advisor, Said.
After Algeria’s independence from France in 1962, former president Bouteflika became Algeria’s first foreign minister and an influential figure in the Non-Aligned movement.
As a president of the U.N.General Assembly, Bouteflika invited former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to address the body in 1974, a historic step toward international recognition of the Palestinian cause.
He also demanded that China be given a seat in the United Nations, and railed against apartheid rule in South Africa.
In the early 1980s, he went into exile after the death of ex-President Houari Boumediene and settled in Dubai, where he became an adviser to a member of the emirate’s ruling family.
He returned home in the 1990s when Algeria was being ravaged by a war between the army and armed Islamist militants that killed at least 200,000 people.
Elected president in 1999, he managed to negotiate a truce with Islamists and launched a national reconciliation process allowing the country to restore peace.