Bouteflika pulls out of race for 5th term

Algerian president back home amid mass protests against him

"Our protests have borne fruit!"

The US State Department said it supported Algeria's efforts to chart a new path forward. They dismissed his swap of prime minister for a different loyalist as a ploy and see Brahimi, the nominal head of the proposed transition conference, as an out-of-touch global elitist.

Algerians have grown exhausted of the ailing leader and other veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France who have dominated a country with high unemployment, poor services and rampant corruption.

Bouteflika, who is 82, has barely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke. Perhaps not yet. A new constitution has been promised, but no timetable has been set.

President AbdelAziz Bouteflika in a statement is quoted to have said.

There are no further details on when the new election date might be. "The conference should strive to complete its mandate by the end of 2019", added Bouteflika.

The conference will be accompanied by a national referendum to rewrite the constitution.

Bedoui will be assisted by a deputy prime minister, Ramtane Lamamra, whose office was created on Monday by decree. In a speech to military academy students Sunday, the chief of staff for Algeria's armed forces, Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, said the army shared "the same values and principles" as the people.

Lakhdar Brahimi, a former foreign minister and United Nations special envoy, is expected to chair the conference. "We must turn this crisis into a constructive process".

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Bouteflika bowed to weeks of mass demonstrations against his 20-year rule late on Monday, but also postponed an election that was due in April, promising social and economic reforms in the former French colony, Reuters reports.

"France expresses its hope that a new dynamic that responds to the aspirations of the Algerian people can get under way quickly", Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

"It's one small battle won", said Yasmine Bouchene, of the collective Les Jeunes Engagés (Activist Youth).

This is all too distant and too vague for many Algerians, especially the young, who are seeking real change to an ossified political system dominated by opaque cliques of officials, businessmen and politicians amid soaring unemployment, widespread corruption and a chronic shortage of accommodation.

The Gulfstream 4SP, registration 7T-VPM, had not been tracked leaving Algeria since Algerian authorities announced in February that Bouteflika had traveled to the Swiss city for unspecified medical checks.

Top clerics had already criticised pressure on them to issue pro-government sermons.

The protests trickled down to middle-schoolers and high-schoolers, with several hundred marching in the center of Algiers, also calling for Bouteflika to withdraw his candidacy.

"Algeria is turning into a monarchy against the people's will", Sabeha, who took part in demonstrations in Algiers on Monday, told Al Jazeera.

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