Algeria's Bouteflika: highlights of a long presidency

Key dates in the life of Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, after the army chief of staff on Tuesday called for him to be declared unfit to rule.

In this file photo taken on November 23, 2017, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen while voting at a polling station in the capital Algiers during polls for local elections. Picture: AFP.

ALGIERS - Key dates in the life of Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, after the army chief of staff on Tuesday called for him to be declared unfit to rule.

  • 2 March, 1937: Born in the Moroccan city of Oujda to a family originally from the Algerian town of Tlemcen, west of Algiers.

Aged 19, Bouteflika joins the National Liberation Army, the military wing of the National Liberation Front fighting for independence from France.

  • 1962-63: He becomes youth, sports and tourism minister in the first post-independence government under president Ahmed Ben Bella.

  • 1963-79: Bouteflika is foreign minister under Ben Bella and the country's second president Houari Boumediene.

  • 1981-87: Sidelined from politics, he lives in exile.

ELECTED PRESIDENT

  • 1999: In April, Bouteflika is elected president after opponents withdraw, alleging foul play.

In September, Algerians overwhelmingly approve a referendum on his civil reconciliation programme, offering partial amnesty to armed Islamic extremists from the civil war that blighted most of the 1990s.

  • 2004: Re-elected for a second term.

  • 2005: Admitted to a French hospital for an operation on a "haemorrhagic ulcer in the stomach".

AL-QAEDA ATTACKS

  • 2007: Two near simultaneous attacks in April, including one targeting the Government Palace in Algiers, are claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

In September, Bouteflika's convoy is the target of a suicide attack and in December two other attacks, also claimed by AQIM, target UN offices and the Constitutional Council.

  • 2009: Bouteflika wins a third term with 90 percent of the vote after changing the constitution to allow himself another five years in office.

  • 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.

FOURTH TERM FROM WHEELCHAIR

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

  • 2014: He wins the presidential election a fourth time and takes the oath in a wheelchair.

  • 30 January 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 fired months earlier.

CONTESTED FIFTH TERM

  • 10 February 2019: Bouteflika announces his bid for a fifth term in April elections, ending months of speculation.

  • 22 February: Tens of thousands of people demonstrate in several cities including the capital Algiers, where protests have been banned since 2001, chanting "No fifth term".

The protests are followed by further demonstrations in the North African country as students, lawyers and other Algerians take to the streets to oppose his re-election bid.

  • On 10 March, as protests continue, Bouteflika returns to Algeria after two weeks in hospital in Geneva for "routine medical checks".

  • 11 March, Bouteflika withdraws his bid for a fifth term and postpones the April 18 election. But he makes it clear he intends to stay in power beyond his mandate to allow time for the organisation of new elections. He gives no date for new polls. Protests continue.

    • 26 March, Army chief of staff Ahmed Gaid Salah says the solution to the crisis "is in article 102" of the constitution, under which parliament could declare the president unable to perform his duties due to serious illness.