Former Algerian president dies at 84

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Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died at the age of 84, according to multiple reports.

State television network ENTV reported Bouteflika’s death on Friday, citing a statement from the office of Algeria’s current President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, The Associated Press reported.

The statement did not provide a cause of death or information about funeral arrangements.

Bouteflika was born on March 2, 1937, in Oujda, Morocco, according to The Washington Post. Following Algeria’s independence from France, Bouteflika was appointed the nation’s minister of foreign affairs at the age of 26.

Bouteflika was elected to preside over the U.N. General Assembly in 1974, making him the youngest person to take the role.

According to Reuters, Bouteflika made the historical decision to invite former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to address the body, and demanded that China be given a seat at the United Nations.

Bouteflika would later go into exile in the early 1980s after the death of ex-President Houari Boumediene, and return home about a decade later when Algeria went to war with Islamic militants. When Bouteflika was elected to the presidency in 1999, he negotiated a peace deal with the Islamists and launched a reconciliation process allowing the country to restore peace, Reuters noted.

Bouteflika ran for reelection in 2004 and would later change the nation’s constitution to run in 2009, The Wall Street Journal noted

He has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, but the announcement that he would run for an unprecedented fifth term in 2019 sparked mass demonstrations from opposition parties and students. 

He left office that year amid the demonstrations after initially pledging not to seek office again. Even the Algerian Defense Ministry called for him to “immediately” leave his post, saying there is “no more time to waste” on the process to have him removed from office.

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