Algeria announces three days of mourning after death of disgraced ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika

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Algeria Obit Bouteflika (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Algeria Obit Bouteflika (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Algeria’s leader has declared a three-day period of mourning starting Saturday for former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika whose 20-year-long rule, riddled with corruption, ended in disgrace as he was pushed from power amid huge street protests when he decided to seek a new term.

Bouteflika, who had been ailing since a stroke in 2013, died Friday at 84.

His public appearances had been rare in the final years of his presidency, and he had not been seen since Abdelmadjid Tebboune took office as the new president in late 2019.

Flags are to fly at half-mast during the mourning period, the president’s office said.

The honours reflect Bouteflika’s role in Algeria’s brutal seven-year war for independence from France that ended in 1962.

The former president’s lawyer, Salim Salim Hadjouti, said Bouteflika was being laid to rest in an official ceremony at El Alia Cemetery, in the section where martyrs of the revolution for independence are buried, a special honour.

Since Bouteflika’s death, public television has not shown images of him, a clear sign that authorities prefer not to go overboard with a farewell as the north African nation has turned past the Bouteflika era.

Early on in his mandate, Tebboune announced his policy of a “new Algeria”.

Tebboune has led a fight against corruption, including in the Bouteflika clan as it emerged that a close circle of officials around the president were enriching themselves and allegedly making decisions in the place of the ailing president.

Bouteflika’s brother and special counsellor Said was acquitted in January by a military appeals court of allegedly plotting against the army and the state, but faces corruption charges.

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