(NPR) – Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned Tuesday after weeks of mass protests against his 20-year rule.
The move accelerated his promise earlier this week to resign before the end of his term on April 28. It followed a demand on Tuesday from the country’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, that Bouteflika be declared unfit for office immediately.
“This decision is triggered by my eagerness to prevent that the verbal excesses that unintentionally mark the situation turn into potentially dangerous drifts, and for the protection of persons and property which is the main prerogatives of the State,” he wrote in a letter released by state-owned Algeria Press Service.
Hundreds reportedly took to the streets of the capital Algiers in celebration, blaring car horns and waving flags.
Persistent protests began after the 82-year-old Bouteflika announced plans in February to seek a fifth term. He then reversed that decision but had delayed new elections.
Since suffering a stroke in 2013, Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public and has been represented by a portrait at public events.