Algeria: Letter from President Bouteflika

This is an English translation of a letter attributed to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, circulated on 3 March 2019 in response to widespread street protests over his attempt to secure a fifth term in office. The French version is here.

In the name of God, the Compassionate and Merciful

Dear citizens,

A few days ago, in response to the requests of citizens, the political class and civil society, in a spirit of accomplishment of a final duty in the service of our country and our people, I announced my candidacy in the presidential election next April.

Millions of citizens have kindly given me their support by actively contributing to the campaign to collect signatures [for the nomination] and granting me their sponsorship.

Serving my country is the greatest honour that has been done to me throughout my life.

First of all, on this occasion I would like to salute, on this occasion, the civic spirit that has characterised the recent popular marches. I also salute the exemplary professional behaviour of the various security forces. I also salute the attitude of all our fellow citizens who have held back from expressing their opinion until election day through the ballot box. Finally, I would like to salute the National People's Army for its mobilisation in all circumstances in the accomplishment of its constitutional missions.

I listen to all the opinions expressed in our society.

I swear that I will not let any force, political or economic, divert the destiny and wealth of our nation for the benefit of personal interests or clandestine groups.

Dear fellow citizens, 

Algeria needs to continue its march towards democracy, progress and prosperity without disrupting the process of accumulating its achievements. To do this, it needs a surge of all political, economic and social forces and all categories of the population, in order to give itself a new ambition.

I have listened and heard the cry of the hearts of the protesters and especially the thousands of young people who questioned me about the future of our homeland. These young people, many of whom have the dignity and generosity of age that I had when I joined the ranks of the glorious National Liberation Army, have expressed an understandable anxiety about the uncertainties that animate them. I have the duty and the will to appease the hearts and minds of my compatriots. I do it today as a mujahid faithful to the memory of our brave martyrs and to the oath of all the companions of our epic liberation struggle who are still alive. I also do so as President of the Republic fully respectful of the popular will that granted me the privilege of acceding to the highest office. I am finally doing it as a candidate for the next presidential election, with conviction. I am determined, if Almighty God gives me the opportunity, and if the Algerian people renew their confidence in me, to assume the historical responsibility for the realisation of their fundamental requirement – that is to say the change of the system. In this spirit, in front of  God and in front of the Algerian people, I solemnly undertake the following commitments:

First: The holding, just after the presidential election, of an inclusive and independent national conference to discuss, elaborate and adopt political, institutional, economic and social reforms, to form the basis of the new system of renewal of the Algerian national state in harmony with the aspirations of our people.

Second: The preparation and adoption by popular referendum of a new constitution which will consecrate the birth of the New Algerian Republic and the new Algerian system.

Third: Rapid implementation of public policies to ensure a fairer and equitable redistribution of national wealth and the elimination of social marginalisation and exclusion, including the Harga [migrant] phenomenon, as well as effective national mobilisation against all forms of corruption.

Fourth: Taking concrete steps to make all our young people priority actors and beneficiaries in public life at all levels and in all spheres of economic and social development.

Fifth: Revision of the electoral law, including the creation of an independent electoral organisation that will have sole responsibility for organising elections.

Sixth: Organising an early presidential election in accordance with the timetable set by the independent national conference. I undertake not to be a candidate for this election which will ensure my succession in undisputable conditions of calm, freedom and transparency. The date of this early presidential election will be fixed by the national conference.

Dear fellow citizens, 

The commitments I have just made before you will naturally lead us to a generational transition in an Algeria reconciled with itself.

I invite you to write together a new page in our history by making the election of April 18 the birth of a new Algerian republic to which the Algerian people aspire.