The Latest: Bouteflika delays Algeria elections, won't run

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ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The Latest on the political situation and protests in Algeria (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

Algerian state television has aired the first images of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika since protests calling for him to drop his bid for a fifth term started last month.

Bouteflika, diminished and in a wheelchair since a 2013 stroke, appeared weak and moved with slow gestures in the images shown with no sound.

He gave in to public pressure after weeks of protests Monday and said he would not seek re-election.

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Spontaneous demonstrations erupted after Bouteflika announced through a letter published by the state news agency Monday that he was delaying the April 18 presidential election and won’t be a candidate when the vote is rescheduled.

Motorists pumped their car horns in spots around the capital, Algiers, as people waved Algerian flags and sang the national anthem.

The initial reaction in Algerian media and social media was positive, but some protesters called for continued pressure on the country’s secretive leadership structure and for entrenched politicians to give up power.

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7:50 p.m.

Algerian state news agency APS says President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has named the interior minister in his government as the new prime minister.

Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui is close to the president’s brother. Bouteflika charged Bedoui with forming a new government on Monday.

Bedoui is replacing Ahmed Ouyahia as prime minister.

Earlier Monday, Bouteflika said he was withdrawing as a candidate in the presidential election set for April. He was seeking a fifth term after 20 years in power.

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The longtime leader also postponed the election and said he planned to put interim leaders in place to plan and reschedule the vote.

Bouteflika did not give a possible date or timeline for the election.

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7:05 p.m.

Algeria’s president says he is creating a new government and a special body to draft a new constitution to respond to mass protests.

The changes were part of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s dramatic announcement on Monday that he ceded to public demands and abandoned his bid for a fifth term.

He also announced that the presidential election scheduled for April 18 will be delayed.

Bouteflika pledged not to run for president again, noting his health and age. Bouteflika is 82 and has barely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke, fueling frustration with his secretive leadership style.

He says he plans to appoint a new government and a separate “national conference” tasked with rescheduling the election and drafting a new constitution.

He made the announcements in a letter to the nation released by state news agency APS.

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6:45 p.m.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced a delay to next month’s presidential election and is bowing to unprecedented public protests and promising not to seek a fifth term.

After 20 years in power, Bouteflika announced the dramatic move Monday in a letter to the Algerian people released by his office. He is promising an interim leadership structure to plan new elections, and says he will not seek to run again.

Bouteflika, who is 82, has barely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke. He has faced unprecedented protests in recent weeks demanding that he abandon plans to seek another term.

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11 a.m.

Algerian workers are holding scattered walkouts and students are gathering for protests as their tense nation waits to see whether ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika offers any concessions in the face of unprecedented protests.

Algerian media and protest leaders expect Monday to be a decisive day for the gas-rich North African country, after Bouteflika returned home Sunday from two weeks in a Swiss hospital.

His absence saw mounting, massive demonstrations demanding that he withdraw his candidacy for a fifth term in next month’s election.

Security is high Monday in Algiers, where some businesses are shuttered by strikes and high school and university students are planning protest-related activity.

Algerians have hardly seen Bouteflika since he suffered a stroke in 2013, and anger has mounted at the country’s secretive power structure.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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