Abdelaziz Bouteflika, GColIH ( pronunciation (help·info);
Arabic: عبد العزيز بوتفليقة ‘Abd al-‘Azīz
Būtaflīqa [ʕaːbd lʕziz butfliqa]; born 2 March 1937) is an
Algerian politician who has been the fifth
President of Algeria
President of Algeria since
1999. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1963 to 1979. As
President, he presided over the end of the bloody Algerian Civil War
in 2002, and he ended emergency rule in February 2011 amidst regional
In November 2012, he surpassed
Houari Boumédiène as the
longest-serving president of Algeria.
2 Early years and War of Independence
3 Post-independence political career
4 Succession struggle and exile
5 First term as President, 1999–2004
5.1 Foreign policy
6 Second term as President, 2004–09
6.1 Reconciliation plan
6.2 Economic policies
6.3 Foreign policy
6.4 Hospitalization in 2005 and later
6.5 Constitutional amendment for a third term
7 Third term as President, 2009–14
7.1 2010–12 Algerian protests
8 Fourth term as President, 2014–present
12 Further reading
13 External links
Abdelaziz Bouteflika was born on 2 March 1937 in Oujda, French
protectorate in Morocco. He was the first child of his mother and the
second child of his father (Fatima, his half-sister, preceded him).
His father (Ahmed Bouteflika) and mother (Mansouria Ghezlaoui)
originated from Tlemcen, Algeria. Bouteflika has three half-sisters
(Fatima, Yamina, and Aïcha), as well as four brothers (Abdelghani,
Mustapha, Abderahim and Saïd) and one sister (Latifa). Saïd serves
as Abdelaziz Bouteflika's personal physician, and is said by some to
be an important figure in Bouteflika's inner circle of advisers. A son
of a zaouia sheikh,
Abdelaziz Bouteflika memorized the Qur'an at young
age. He continued his education in
Oujda until high school. Later, he
joined the Algerian Liberation Army (ALN), soon getting a promotion.
In 1960, he was assigned with leading the Malian Front in the Algerian
south, when he became known with his revolutionary name of Abdelkader
al-Mali, which has survived until today.
Early years and War of Independence
Bouteflika was raised in Oujda, where his father had emigrated as a
youngster. He successively attended three schools there: "Sidi
Ziane", "El Hoceinia" and the "Abdel Moumen" high-school, where he
reportedly excelled academically. He was also affiliated with
Qadiriyya Zaouia in Oujda.
In 1956, Bouteflika went to the village of Ouled Amer near
subsequently joined—at the age of 19—the Army of National
Liberation which was a military branch of the National Liberation
Front (FLN). He was militarily instructed at the "Ecole des Cadres" in
Dar El Kebdani, Morocco. In 1957–1958, he was designated a
controller of the Wilaya V, making reports on the conditions at the
Moroccan border and in west Algeria, but later became the
administrative secretary of Houari Boumediene. He emerged as one of
the closest collaborators of the influential Boumédienne, and a core
member of his
Oujda group. In 1962, at the arrival of independence, he
aligned with Boumédienne and the border armies in support of Ahmed
Ben Bella against the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic.
Post-independence political career
Bouteflika in the 1970s with
Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad
After independence in 1962, Bouteflika became deputy for
the Constituent Assembly and Minister for Youth and Sport in the
government led by Ahmed Ben Bella; the following year, he was
appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was later a prime mover
in the military coup led by
Houari Boumediene that overthrew Ben Bella
on 19 June 1965. Bouteflika continued as Minister for Foreign
Affairs until the death of President Boumédienne in 1978.
He has also served as president of the
United Nations General Assembly
in 1974 and of the seventh special session in 1975. While in these
posts he came in for severe criticism from the United States for what
it regarded as politically partisan decisions.
Algeria at this time
was a leader of the Non-Aligned nations movement. He
discussed there with Henry Kissinger in the first talk between US and
Algerian officials since the diplomatic relations between these two
countries have resumed.
In 1981, he was sued for having stolen Algerian embassies' money
between 1965 and 1979. On 8 August 1983, Bouteflika was convicted by
the Court of Financial Auditors and found guilty of having
fraudulently taken 60 million dinars during his diplomatic career. In
his defence Bouteflika said that he "reserved" that money to build a
new building for the foreign affairs ministry, but the court judged
his argument as "fallacious". In 1979, just after the death of
Boumédiène, Bouteflika reimbursed 12,212,875.81 dinars out of the 70
million dinars that was deposited in a Swiss bank. Although Bouteflika
was granted amnesty by President Chadli Bendjedid, his colleagues
Senouci and Boudjakdji were jailed. After the amnesty, Bouteflika was
given back his diplomatic passport, a villa where he used to live but
did not own and all his debt was erased. He never paid back the money
"he reserved for a new foreign affairs ministry's building".
Succession struggle and exile
Following Boumédienne's unexpected death in 1978, Bouteflika was seen
as one of the two main candidates to succeed the powerful president.
Bouteflika was thought to represent the party's "right wing" that was
more open to economic reform and rapprochement with the West. Colonel
Mohamed Salah Yahiaoui represented the "boumédiennist" left wing.
In the end, the military opted for a compromise candidate, the senior
army colonel Chadli Bendjedid. Bouteflika was reassigned the role of
Minister of State, but successively lost power as Bendjedid's policies
of "de-Boumédiennisation" marginalised the old guard.
After six years abroad, the army brought him back to the Central
Committee of the FLN in 1989, after the country had entered a troubled
period of unrest and disorganised attempts at reform, with
power-struggles between Bendjedid and a group of army generals
paralysing decision-making. In 1992, the reform process ended abruptly
when the army took power and scrapped elections that were about to
bring the fundamentalist
Islamic Salvation Front
Islamic Salvation Front to power. This
triggered a civil war that would last throughout the 1990s. During
this period, Bouteflika stayed on the sidelines, with little presence
in the media and no political role. In January 1994, Bouteflika is
said to have refused the Army's proposal to succeed the assassinated
president, Mohamed Boudiaf; he claimed later that this was because the
army would not grant him full control over the armed forces. Instead,
Liamine Zéroual became President.
First term as President, 1999–2004
Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the G8 family photo, 2010
Abdelaziz Bouteflika meets
Dmitry Medvedev in the United States, 25
In 1999, Zéroual unexpectedly stepped down and announced early
elections. The reasons behind his decision remain unclear, but it is
widely claimed that his pro-reconciliation policies towards the
Islamist insurgency had incurred the wrath of a hard-line faction in
the armed forces; or that some other disagreement with the military,
which still dominated politics, lay behind the schism. Bouteflika ran
for president as an independent candidate, supported by the military.
He was elected with 74% of the votes, according to the official count.
All other candidates withdrew from the election immediately prior to
the vote, citing fraud concerns. Bouteflika subsequently organised a
referendum on his policies to restore peace and security to Algeria
(involving amnesties for Islamist guerrillas) and to test his support
among his countrymen after the contested election. He won with 81% of
the vote, but this figure was also disputed by opponents.
Further information: Foreign relations of Algeria
Bouteflika was also active on the international scene, presiding over
what many have characterised as Algeria's return to international
affairs, after almost a decade of international isolation. He presided
African Union in 2000, secured the
Algiers Peace Treaty
Eritrea and Ethiopia, and supported peace efforts in the
African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes region. He also secured a friendship treaty with
nearby Spain in 2002, and welcomed president Chirac of France on a
state visit to
Algiers in 2003. This was intended as a prelude to the
signature of a friendship treaty.
Algeria has been particularly active in African relations, and in
mending ties with the West, as well as trying to some extent to
resurrect its role in the declining non-Aligned movement. However, it
has played a more limited role in Arab politics, its other traditional
sphere of interest. Relations with the
Kingdom of Morocco
Kingdom of Morocco remained
quite tense, with diplomatic clashes on the issue of the Western
Sahara, despite some expectations of a thaw in 1999, which was also
the year of King Mohamed VI's accession to the throne in Morocco.
Second term as President, 2004–09
On 8 April 2004, he was re-elected by an unexpectedly high 85% of the
vote in an election that was accepted by OSCE observers as a free and
fair election, despite minor irregularities. This was contested by his
rival and former Chief of Staff Ali Benflis. Several opponents alleged
that the election had not been fair, and pointed to extensive state
control over the broadcast media. The electoral victory was widely
seen as a confirmation of Bouteflika's strengthened control over the
state apparatus, and many saw the following retirement of longtime
armed forces commander Gen.
Mohammed Lamari in the light of this. He
and military commanders allied to him were thought to have opposed
Bouteflika's bid for a second term and backed Benflis. Other major
military power-brokers would be reassigned to minor posts or withdraw
from politics in the years that followed, underlining Bouteflika's
gradual monopolising of decision-making.
Kabyle people boycotted the election; participation did not exceed
During the first year of his second term, Bouteflika held a referendum
on his "Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation", inspired by
the 1995 "Sant'Egidio Platform" document. Bouteflika's plan aims at
concluding his efforts of ending the civil war, from a political and
judicial point of view. He obtained large popular support with this
referendum and has since instructed the government and Parliament to
work on the technical details of its implementation. Critics claimed
that the plan will only grant immunity to members of the armed forces
responsible for crimes, as well as to terrorists and have argued for a
plan similar to South Africa's "truth and reconciliation commission"
to be adopted instead. Bouteflika dismissed the calls, claiming that
each country needs to find its own solutions to ending painful
chapters of its history. He has received large political support on
this issue, from both the Islamist and the nationalist camps, and from
parts of the Democratic opposition.
The amnesty plan was rejected by the main remaining insurgent group,
the GSPC, although perhaps as many as several hundred fighters still
left their hideouts to claim amnesty. The group's warfare against the
Algerian state continues despite reconciliation plan, although
Bouteflika's government claims it has had an impact in removing
support for the group. In 2006, the GSPC was officially accepted as a
branch of al-Qaida in a video message by Ayman al-Zawahiri; soon
thereafter, it changed its name to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM). Bouteflika has kept the amnesty option open –
apparently open-ended despite the end of the deadline stipulated by
the reconciliation law – while simultaneously pursuing the
rebel group militarily. Algerian forces have scored several major
captures of GSPC/AQIM commanders, but the groups top leadership
remains at large, and armed activity is frequent in Kabylie, with
AQIM-connected smuggling networks active in parts of the desert south.
Unlike in previous years, AQIM have begun using suicide attack tactics
and in 2007–2008 launched several major attacks in
Algiers and other
The first year of Bouteflika's second term also featured a new
five-year plan, much larger this time drafted. The Complementary Plan
for Economic Growth Support (PCSC: Plan Complementaire de la
Croissance Économique) aims for the construction of 1 million housing
units, the creation of 2 million jobs, the completion of the East-West
highway, the completion of the
Algiers subway project, the delivery of
Algiers airport, and other similar large scale infrastructure
projects. The PCSC totals $60 billion of spending over the five-year
period. Bouteflika also aims to bring down the external debt from $21
billion to $12 billion in the same time. He has also obtained from
Parliament the reform of the law governing the oil and gas industries,
despite initial opposition from the workers unions. However,
Bouteflika has since stepped back from this position, supporting
amendments to the hydrocarbon law in 2006, which propose watering down
some of the clauses of the 2005 legislation relating to the role of
Sonatrach, the state owned oil & gas company, in new developments.
It also proposes new provisions enabling the country to benefit from
windfall taxes on foreign investors in times of high prices.
Bouteflika has also put up for sale 1300 public sector companies, and
has already achieved privatisation of about 150 of them, mainly in the
tourism, food processing, cement, construction material and chemical
Bouteflika with then
President of Russia
President of Russia
Vladimir Putin at Houari
Boumedienne Airport in
Algiers on 10 March 2006.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika and George W. Bush exchange handshakes (Tōyako
Town, on 7 July 2008). With them are President Dmitriy Medvedev, left,
and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, right.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika meets the President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, on
a state visit to Brasília, in 2005.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika meets the President of Argentina, Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner
On the international scene, Bouteflika's second term has seen
diplomatic tensions rise with France due to the controversial voting
French Parliament of a law ordering French history school books
to teach that French colonisation had positive effects abroad,
especially in North Africa. The diplomatic crisis which ensued has put
on hold the signing of a friendship treaty with France (23 February
2004, re-endorsed in December 2005). Ties to Russia have been
strengthened by large imports of Russian military hardware –
about 7 billion USD were spent in one single purchase –
although relations entered a rocky phase, at least temporarily, when
Algeria refused to accept some MiG fighter jets due to their allegedly
poor quality. Rumours of the two countries negotiating a form of
cartel for natural gas, similar to OPEC's role in oil affairs, with
Qatar also involved, have appeared repeatedly, and Bouteflika
has confirmed an interest in the idea. (Russia is the no. 1 gas
supplier to the EU, and
Algeria the no. 2 supplier.) Bouteflika has
also carefully cultivated a relationship with China, with exchanges of
state visits between the two countries.
Algeria has remained involved in Arab affairs, and seen a somewhat
growing role there. In 2004 Bouteflika also organised the Arab League
Summit and became President of the
Arab League for one year. His calls
for reform of the League did not gain sufficient support to pass in
Algiers summit however. Like in previous years since the
Algeria has kept a relatively low profile in the Palestine
Algeria has remained preoccupied with the Western
Sahara issue, counter-lobbying Moroccan attempts to gain international
acceptance for Moroccan-ruled autonomy in the disputed territory, at
the expense of Polisario's (and Algeria's) calls for the long-since
decided self-determination referendum to finally be held. Relations
Morocco therefore remain poor, and
Algeria in 2008 repeatedly
refused to answer Moroccan demands to open the common land border,
which has been closed since 1994. Both
Algeria have since
approximately 2005 spent several billion dollars in what could be
described as an arms race between them, mainly on modernizing and
expanding their air forces.
At the March 2005 meeting of Arab leaders, held in Algiers, Bouteflika
spoke out strongly against Israel, "The Israelis' continuous killing
and refusal of a comprehensive and lasting peace, which the Arab world
is calling for, requires from us to fully support the Palestinian
people." Despite criticism from the west, specifically the US,
Bouteflika insisted that Arab nations would reform at their own
Bouteflika remains active in foreign affairs, especially within the
region and many of his foreign affairs policies and decisions are
characterized by a “principle of non-interference” in other
countries affairs. In March 2016, the foreign ministers of the Arab
league voted to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Bouteflika
voted with Lebanon,
Iraq to reject the motion.
In sub-Saharan Africa, a major concern of Bouteflika's
been on-and-off Tuareg rebellions in northern Mali.
asserted itself forcefully as mediator in the conflict, perhaps
underlining its growing regional influence. Algerian interest is
driven by its extensive interests in the region: smuggling routes as
well as legal economic activity crosses these virtually unguarded
borderlands, and refugees from the conflict have entered southern
Algeria to mix with the Tuareg populations there. Also, the area is
known as a hideout of a southern branch of AQIM, further heightening
Algeria's interest in the area. Compromise peace agreements were
reached in 2007 and 2008, both mediated by Algiers. The related
Touareg revolt in neighbouring
Niger has not seen the same Algerian
involvement, even if the anti-government MNJ movement has on at least
one occasion called for Algerian mediation similar to in Mali.
Algeria's involvement in Africa has otherwise been concerned with
supporting the African Union, and been marked by a rapidly
strengthening coordination with South Africa, which, among other
things, has emerged as Algeria's main ally on the Western Sahara
All in all, Algeria's foreign policy under Bouteflika remains hinged
on same axis as under earlier governments, emphasizing South–South
ties, especially with growing Third World powers (China, South Africa,
Brazil, etc.) and guarding the country's independence in
decision-making vis-a-vis the West, although simultaneously striving
for good trade relations and non-confrontational political relations
with the EU and USA.
President of Vietnam
President of Vietnam Nguyễn Minh Triết, on 16 July 2009, met with
Bouteflika on the sidelines of the 15th
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
summit in Egypt. President Triet and Bouteflika agreed that the two
countries still have great potential for development of political and
trade relations. Triet thanked the Algerian government for creating
favourable conditions for the
Vietnam Oil and Gas Group to invest in
oil and gas exploration and exploitation in Algeria.
Hospitalization in 2005 and later
Bouteflika was admitted to a hospital in France on 26 November 2005,
reportedly suffering from a gastric ulcer hemorrhage, and discharged
three weeks later. However, the length of time for which
Bouteflika remained virtually incommunicado led to rumours that he was
critically ill with stomach cancer. He checked into the hospital
again in April 2006.
A leaked diplomatic cable revealed that by the end of 2008, Bouteflika
had developed stomach cancer.
In spring and summer 2013, Boutflika stayed nearly four months in a
hospital in Paris dealing with health problems.
Bouteflika was admitted to a clinic at
Grenoble in France in November
As of early 2016, Bouteflika has not been seen in public for more than
two years, and several of his close associates have not seen him for
more than one year. It is alleged he "can hardly speak and is said to
communicate by letter with his ministers".
In November 2016, he was hospitalized in France for medical
Constitutional amendment for a third term
Bouteflika appointed a new Prime Minister, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, in
2006. Belkhadem then announced plans to amend the Algerian
Constitution to allow the President to run for office indefinitely and
increase his powers. This was widely regarded as aimed to let
Bouteflika run for president a third term. A referendum was originally
scheduled for 2007, but cancelled for reasons never explained. In
2008, Belkhadem was again shifted out of the premiership and his
Ahmed Ouyahia brought in, having also come out in favor of
the constitutional amendment.
The Council of Ministers announced on 3 November 2008 that the planned
constitutional revision proposal would remove the presidential term
limit previously included in Article 74. The People's National
Assembly endorsed the removal of the term limit on 12 November 2008;
Rally for Culture and Democracy
Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) voted against its
Third term as President, 2009–14
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April
Following the constitutional amendment allowing him to run for a third
term, on 12 February 2009, Bouteflika announced his independent
candidacy in the 2009 presidential election. On 10 April 2009, it
was announced that Bouteflika had won the election with 90.24% of the
vote, on a turnout of 74%, thereby obtaining a new five-year term.
Several opposition parties had boycotted the election, with the
Socialist Forces Front citing a "tsunami of massive
2010–12 Algerian protests
In 2010, journalists gathered to demonstrate for press freedom and
against Bouteflika’s self-appointed role as editor-in-chief of
Algeria’s state television station. In February 2011, the
government rescinded the state of emergency that had been in place
since 1992 but still banned all protest gatherings and demonstrations.
However in April 2011, over 2000 protesters defied an official ban and
took to the streets of Algiers, clashing with police forces.
Protesters noted that they were inspired by the recent Egyptian
revolution, and that
Algeria was a police state and “corrupt to the
Main article: 2010–12 Algerian protests
Fourth term as President, 2014–present
Following yet another constitutional amendment, allowing him to run
for a fourth term, Bouteflika announced that he would. He met the
electoral law requiring a candidate to collect over 60,000 signatures
from supporters in 25 provinces. He very seldom appeared in person
on the campaign trail. On 18 April 2014, he was re-elected with 81% of
the vote, while Benflis was second placed with 12.18%. The turnout
was 51.7%, down from the 75% turnout in 2009. Several opposition
parties boycotted the election again, resulting in allegations of
Bouteflika has sent a cable of congratulations to Bashar al-Assad, on
the occasion of winning his presidential elections.
On 20 February 2017, the German Chancellor
Angela Merkel canceled her
Algeria an hour before takeoff, reported by AFP to be because
Bouteflika was suffering from severe bronchitis.
In June 2017, Bouteflika made a rare appearance on Algerian state
television presiding over a cabinet meeting with his new government.
He ordered the government to reduce imports, curb spending and warned
of the dangers of foreign debt. He made a call for reform in the
banking sector as well as an increase in investment in renewable
energy, specifically shale.[clarification needed] According to The
Economist, Bouteflika is "confined to a wheelchair. In May he needed
help casting his ballot. He has not given a speech in public for
years. Critics call him “the living dead”.
Grand Collar of the Order of Prince Henry,
Portugal (14 January
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Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh
Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Abdullah II of Jordan
Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
Yahya Ould Hademine
Mohammed VI of Morocco
Qaboos bin Said al Said
Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
Salman of Saudi Arabia
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
Hassan Ali Khayre
Bakri Hassan Saleh
Beji Caid Essebsi
United Arab Emirates
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi
Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr
"Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam"
Events by country
Bahrain: Al Wefaq
February 14 Youth Coalition
Egypt: April 6 Youth Movement
Muslim Brotherhood (FJP)
National Association for Change
National Democratic Party
National Salvation Front
The Third Square
Libya: National Liberation Army
National Transitional Council
Mauritania: February 25th Movement
Saudi Arabia: Women to drive movement
Society for Development and Change
Syria: Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces
Free Syrian Army
Syrian Revolution General Commission
Syrian National Council
National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change
Tunisia: Constitutional Democratic Rally
Tunisian General Labour Union
Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet
Yemen: Alliance of Yemeni Tribes
General People's Congress
Women in the Arab Spring
Algeria: Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Bahrain: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Ali Jawad al-Sheikh
Egypt: Hosni Mubarak
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Khaled Mohamed Saeed
Jordan: King Abdullah II
Libya: Muammar Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Mustafa Abdul Jalil
Mauritania: Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf
Morocco: Mohammed VI
Abbas El Fassi
Saudi Arabia: Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Sudan: Omar al-Bashir
Syria: Bashar al-Assad
Muhammad Naji al-Otari
Riyad Farid Hijab
Wael Nader al-Halqi
Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb
Tunisia: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
Beji Caid Essebsi
United Arab Emirates:
Yemen: Ali Abdullah Saleh
Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi
Abdul Majeed al-Zindani
Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi
Libyan Civil War (2011–present)
Egyptian crisis (2011–14)
death of Muammar Gaddafi
Timelines by country
Heads of state of
OPEC member states
Acting heads of state shown in italics.
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