Bouteflika was Algeria’s longest-serving ruler and resigned in 2019 following street protests.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sent his condolences to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Saturday following the death of his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Bouteflika died on Friday at the age of 84 following a long battle with an illness. The late leader had stepped down two years earlier in 2019 amid mass protests and pressure from the army after announcing plans to run for a fifth term.
The former president suffered a stroke in 2013 but was nonetheless elected for a fourth term in 2014, leading critics to describe him as a “phantom president”.
Due to the mass Hirak-led protests in 2019, investigations were launched to identify corruption nationwide, leading to the imprisonment of several senior Algerian officials including Bouteflika’s own brother and adviser, Said Bouteflika.
However, the latter was cleared of all charges in January this year along with two former security chiefs despite receiving a 15-year sentence in September the previous year.
The former president’s political journey kick-started after Algeria gained independence from France in 1962 following eight years of a bloody war. At the time, Bouteflika served as the country’s first foreign minister.
He had joined the war against the French at the age of 19 under Houari Boumédiene, who became the country’s president in 1965. Bouteflika also became the country’s minister of youth and tourism at the age of 25 before serving as the foreign minister.
The former Algerian president was also an influential figure in the Non-Aligned Movement [NAM] that amplified the voices of Africa, Asia and Latin America in efforts to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers”.
Bouteflika also invited former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to address the UN General Assembly in 1974, which was seen a historic step towards the international recognition of the occupied state amid the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation.
In the early 1980’s, Bouteflika served as an adviser to a member of the UAE’s ruling family during his exile in Dubai after the death of former president Houari Boumedine.
Bouteflika then returned to Algeria in the 1990’s amid an ongoing civil war that erupted between Algerian forces and armed Islamist militants.
Up to 200,000 people died in that conflict.
He then held negotiations with the Islamists in efforts to restore peace in the country in the late 90’s.
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