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Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Arabic: ¢abdi l-azīz abū tiflīqa

Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
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Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

(1937- ) President of Algeria since 1999, Foreign Minister 1963-79, and Minister of Youth, Sport and Tourism 1962-63.
Bouteflika was an piece of the image of the optimistic and dynamic Algeria that rose after the Algerian War. However, he was a stranger to many of the other members of the leadership of FLN and Algeria, having a far more upper-class, Western-oriented style and background. Bouteflika has always had great support from the administrative elite and the higher classes in the cities.
This served him well in meeting with Western leaders during his time as foreign minister, and helped cover a politics that often was different from the interests of the Western countries. But on home ground, Bouteflika's position was weakened during the presidency of Boumedienne.
Bouteflika is considered to be moderate in his politics, with a political orientation that lies half-way between socialism and capitalism. He organized an economic recovery plan since 2000, in which the agricultural sector received governmental aid, and with much needed construction of social housing units, roads and other infrastructure projects. He also has privatized many companies.
He has virtually no support among the important Kabyle Berbers, a situation which remains one of his main challenges (see Black Spring).

1937 March 2: Born in Oujda (today Morocco) to a father of origin in Tlemcen.
1956: Bouteflika finishes his secondary education, and joins the ALN (Armée de libération nationale), which is part of FLN.
1957: Starts serving as officer, working specifically out of Oujda, not participating in fights.
1960: Is stationed in the southern regions of Algeria.
1961: Participates in a secret Algerian delegation to Aulnoy, France, in order to negotiate with the French authorities.
1962: With the birth of Muslim independent Algeria, Bouteflika is appointed Minister of Youth, Sport and Tourism.
1963: Bouteflika is appointed Foreign Minister, at the age of 26.
— Bouteflika also becomes member of the legislative assembly.
1964: He is elected for the congress of the FLN.
1979: After serving as foreign minister under two different presidents, Ahmed Ben Bella and Houari Boumedienne, Bouteflika finally has to resign from his post.
1981: Bouteflika goes into exile, after being charged with corruption. The case is later dropped.
1987 January: Bouteflika returns to Algeria.
1988 October: Bouteflika signs a protest against the ruthless acts by government troops against young protesters.
1989: He participates in the FLN congress, and is elected to the central committee.
1998 December: Declares that he will run for president with the next elections.
1999 April 15: Elected president with 73.8% of the votes, after all the other candidates withdrew in protest. French figures (Le Monde) gave Bouteflika only 28% in an election with 23% turn-out. The elections are met with international criticism and internal protest in the days following. Out of 47 candidates, 7 were permitted to run for election. 6 of them would withdraw so close to the election, that the ballots could not be changed. They all, therefore, received votes.
August 1: Bouteflika declares that he will put an agreement between the government and FIS up for a referendum on September 16.
December: Establishes a new government, with Ahmed Benbitour as prime minister. The government had members from the 7 political parties that had supported Bouteflika in the presidential election.
2001: Following the arrest and killing of a high school student in Kabylia, widespread riots break out in Kabylia. The protests, Black Spring, brings forth several large demonstrations in Algiers, the largest with 500,000 participants.
2004 April 8: Bouteflika is reelected in presidential elections, winning 83.5% of the votes. The election is called fair by international observers, but is boycotted by the Kabyles.
— Introduces a National Reconciliation Plan, offering amnesty to many combatants in the Algerian Civil War.
— Becomes president of the Arab League, a term that would last one year.
2005 November 26: Hospitalized for 3 weeks.
2006 May 25: Appoints Abdelaziz Belkhadem new prime minister. He also announced a change in the constitution to allow the president to remain in office indefinitely.

By Tore Kjeilen