This is the full text of a statement issued in the name of Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on 11 March 2019, announcing that he would not seek a fifth term in office.
The announcement came in response to more than two weeks of strikes and street protests calling on the 82-year-old president to retire. The statement promised political reforms but also postponed the presidential election scheduled for 18 April – in effect extending the president's fourth term beyond its allotted end date.
Source: Algeria Press Service.
Algeria is living through a sensitive stage of its history. On March 8, for the third consecutive Friday, major popular marches took place across the country. I have followed these developments, and as I already announced on March 3rd, I do understand the motivations of the numerous compatriots who choose this way of expression of which I once again hail the peaceful nature.
I particularly understand the message given by youth, in terms of anxiety and ambition for their own future and that of the country. I also understand the gap which may have been the source of concern, between the holding of the Presidential Election on a technically appropriate date, as a milestone of governance in the institutional and political life, and the opening, without delay of a large and high priority undertaking at the political level.
It concerns the conception and the conduct of deep reforms in the political, institutional, economic and social fields, with the largest possible and most representative participation of the Algerian society, with the just share that should be dedicated to women and youth.
I understand that the renovating project of our State-Nation, which I announced the key lines, would benefit from more explanations and preparations, so to clear doubts by providing the conditions for its approval by all the Algerian society’s categories and the nation’s components.
Loyal to the oath I took before the Algerian people to protect and promote in all the circumstances the interests of our country, and after the institutional consultations needed under the Constitution, I invoke the grace and support of Almighty God to avail myself of the higher values of our people, our glorious martyrs and brave Mujahedeen to announce to you the following decisions:
First: There will be no fifth term and there has never been any question for me, since my health condition and my age assign me as an ultimate duty, to the Algerian people; the contribution to the foundations of a new Republic as part of the new Algerian system that we all strive for. This new Republic and this new system will be in the hands of the new generations of Algerians, men and women, who will naturally be the main actors and beneficiaries of public life and sustainable development in the Algeria of tomorrow.
Second: There will be no Presidential Election on April 18th. This is to meet a pressing request that you have been many to express to me in your concern to remove any misunderstanding as to the desirability and irreversibility of the generational transmission to which I am committed. It is also a matter of making prevail the noble purpose of the legal devices which resides in a sound regulation of the institutional life and in the harmony of the socio-political interactions, on a rigid fulfillment of pre-established rendezvous.
The postponement of the Presidential Election that has been demanded comes therefore to ease the apprehensions that have been expressed in order to pave the way for spreading serenity, tranquillity and public security, with the aim of undertaking together the actions of paramount importance which will make it possible to prepare as quickly as possible the advent of a new era in Algeria.
Third: With a view to greater mobilization from the public authorities and enhancing the effectiveness of the State’s action in all areas, I decided to make capital changes within the Government in the near future. These changes are set to be an adequate response to the expectations you voiced to me, as well as an illustration of my receptivity to the requirement of accountability and rigorous assessment, as part of the exercise of senior positions at all levels and in all sectors.
Fourth: The Inclusive and Independent National Conference will be a forum with all the forces necessary for debating, developing and adopting all types of reforms, which are meant to be the foundation for the new system for launching the process of transforming our nation-state, which I consider to be my ultimate mission in completing the work the Almighty God has given me the capacity and the Algerian people have given me the opportunity to do.
This conference will be equitably representative of the Algerian society as well as its trends. Its proceedings will be overseen by a plural presidential body, chaired by an independent, consensual and experienced national figure. The conference should strive to complete its mandate by the end of 2019. The draft Constitution emanating from the Conference will be submitted to a popular referendum. The National Independent Conference will fix the date of the presidential election, in which I will not be candidate.
Fifth: The Presidential Election, which will take place in the wake of the Inclusive and Independent national conference, will be organized under the exclusive authority of an Independent National Electoral Commission whose mandate, composition and mode of operation will be codified in a legislative text, based on the most established experiences and practices in the world.
The creation of an Independent National Electoral Commission is decided in response to a demand largely upheld by the Algerian political parties as well as to a constant recommendation of the electoral observation missions of the international and regional organizations, invited and received by Algeria during the previous elections.
Sixth: In order to optimally contribute to the holding of the presidential election under indisputable conditions of freedom, regularity and transparency, a Government of national competencies will be formed with the support of the components of the National Conference. This Government will supervise the missions of the public administration and the security services and will fully collaborate with the Independent National Electoral Commission. For its part, the Constitutional Council will assume, in complete independence, the powers conferred on it by the Constitution and the law on the presidential elections.
Seventh: I solemnly pledge before the Almighty God and in front of the Algerian people to spare no effort so that the State institutions, structures, dismemberments and local authorities mobilize to contribute to the full success of this action plan. I also undertake to ensure that all the constitutional institutions of the Republic scrupulously pursue the accomplishment of their respective missions and exercise their respective authorities in the exclusive service of the Algerian people and the Republic.
Finally, I pledge to hand over the prerogatives of the President of the Republic to the successor that the Algerian people will freely elect.