Abdelaziz Bouteflika was born on 2 March 1937 to Algerian parents living in Morocco. Like many of independent Algeria’s future elite, he won his spurs in the eight-year war of liberation against the French. Joining Algeria’s liberation movement three years into the war in 1957, he served in his family’s home region in western Algeria, among the commanders who went on to form the “Oujda clan” that played a dominant role after independence.
He then moved to the “Malian Front” in the south, earning the nom de guerre “Si Abdelkader el-Mali”, before undertaking a secret mission to France in 1961 to make contact with imprisoned leaders of the liberation movement. At independence in 1962 he became minister of youth, sports and tourism at the tender age of 26, rising to the post of foreign minister the following year under President Ahmed Ben Bella. The late Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski wrote how Ben Bella, a passionate footballer, used to rush out to play a game with his foreign minister between political meetings. But Mr Bouteflika went on to become the principal organiser of the bloodless coup that brought Houari Boumedienne to power.
Mr Bouteflika had campaigned on his promise to bring peace to Algeria, and soon introduced the first of two reconciliation plans that granted broad amnesties to Islamist militants, while laying the blame for the conflict firmly on the insurgents. He also charged off once more on the diplomatic trail, seeking to mend the reputation of a regime battered by accusations of major human rights abuses. There have been other types of unrest, with social, political and economic grievances spilling over into violent protests throughout Mr Bouteflika’s time in office. The president was widely criticised for his response to the most serious recent riots, which took place in the Berber region of Kabylia in 2001. Meanwhile, many Algerians say they have not felt the effects of the country’s wealth.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika Full Biography and Profile
Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA was born on March 02, 1937. He started very early militating for the national cause and joined the ranks of the National Liberation Army (ALN) in 1956 when he was about to obtain his high school graduation.
He was entrusted with a two-fold mission of general controller of Wilaya 5 in 1957 and 1958. After being high ranking officer in zones 4 and 7 of the Wilaya 5, he was then transferred to the headquarters (Command Post) of the aforementioned Wilaya to be named thereafter successively with the Command Post of the military operations command (COM) of the Western region, the Command Post of the regional joint chief of staff for the West, then the Command Post of the national joint chief of staff.
In 1960, he was transferred to the southernmost borders of the country to assume the command of the “Mali Front” of which creation was part of the measures aiming at frustrating the colonial power’s plans to divide the country.
In 1961, he has made a trip to France clandestinely in order to contact the historical leaders who were detained in Aulnoy.
In 1962, he was a member of the Constituent Assembly and became Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism in the first government of the independent Algeria at the age of 25. In 1963, he was member of the Legislative Assembly and he was appointed during the same year to the post of Foreign Affairs Minister.
In 1964, during the congress of the National Liberation Front (FLN), he was elected member of the Central committee (CC) and of the Political Bureau (PB). Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA has taken part in the revolutionary rectification in the context of which was created the Council of the Revolution of which he was member under the presidency of President Houari BOUMEDIENE.
Confirmed in the functions of Foreign Affairs Minister, he has conducted, until 1979, a diplomatic action which has won Algeria prestige, radiance and influence that have made it one of the leaders of the Third World. Thus, Algeria held a key position for the great powers. At the helms of the Algerian diplomacy, he has contributed, in particular, to the defense of the legitimate interests of the country, the support of the right causes throughout the world, and the notorious successes which crowned the Algeria’s foreign policy, namely, in the:
- reinforcement and unification of the Arab ranks during the conference of Khartoum in 1967, then, during the October 1973 war against Israel,
- recognition by the international community of the borders of Algeria and the establishment of relations of fraternity and neighborliness with all the bordering countries,
- the failure of the embargo which was to be imposed on Algeria following the nationalization of its hydrocarbons,
- consolidation of the organizations of the Third World and of the unity of their action through the role which he played on the occasion of the congress of the Group of 77 in 1967, the African Summit held in Algiers, and in the preparation of the various meetings of the Non-Aligned,
- the support for the decolonization in Africa and in the rest of the world,
- recognition of Algeria as a spokesman of the Third World in its quest for a new international economic order
Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA was unanimously elected president of the 29th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He also chaired the sixth extraordinary session of UNO devoted to energy and the raw materials and of which convening Algeria was one of the countries which militated for.
Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA contributed during this same period to the definition of the main trends of the national policy in all the fields, and called within the leading instances for a greater flexibility of the system. At the death of president Houari BOUMEDIENE of whom he was one of the closest companions, Mr. BOUTEFLIKA has expressed the Nation’s deep feelings in his funeral oration which had the greatest effect on millions of Algerians.
After 1978, Mr. Bouteflika became the first target of “anti Boumedienneism” and was forced into exile during six years and half. He returned to the country only in January 1987. After the events of October 1988, Mr. BOUTEFLIKA was one of the signatories of the “motion of the 18”. Mr. BOUTEFLIKA who was invited to the extraordinary congress of the FLN in 1989 was elected member of the Central committee of the Party.
Sounded out about being appointed to the post of Minister Adviser to the High Council of State (HCE) then to that of Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations, Mr. BOUTEFLIKA declined the offer. He had also declined the offer made to him in 1994 to take over the post of President of the State within the framework of measures and provisions relating to the transitional period.
In December 1998, he announced his decision to participate as an independent candidate to the anticipated presidential elections which were held on April 15, 1999.He was elected as President of the Republic on April 15th 1999. He was reelected in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika Quick Facts
- Abdelaziz Bouteflika was Sectional Secretary-General of the General Union of Algerian Moslem Students (UGEMA). As an officer of the ALN General Staff, he was a close collaborator with President Boumedienne, then Chief of the General Staff, and undertook several politico-military missions.
- In September 1962, he became Minister of Youth and Tourism and as, of April 1963, he was called on to fulfill numerous foreign missions as Minister for Foreign Affairs ad interim. In June 1963, he was confirmed in his duties of Minister for Foreign Affairs and has been in that post since.
- Abdelaziz Bouteflika was a member of the first Constitutional Assembly and was elected as a deputy from Tlemcen to the first and second Legislative Assemblies. After the FLN Congress of April 1964, he was designated a member of the Central Committee and of the Political Bureau of the FLN.
- Mr. Bouteflika headed the Algerian inter-ministerial delegation for the Algerian-French negotiations (1963) aimed at solving the pending administrative, financial and commercial problems left over after independence; the Algerian delegation to the 1962 negotiations; and those of 1971 on the settlement of the petroleum question.
- In the United Nations, Mr. Bouteflika has headed the Algerian delegation to the regular and special sessions of the General Assembly since 1963. He also headed his country’s delegation to the fifty-fifth session of the Economic anal Social Council and to the second and third sessions of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in New Delhi in 1968 and in Santiago in 1973.
- In the “Group of 77” developing countries, he was President of the first Conference of Ministers of member countries of the Group held at Algiers in October 1967 and headed the Algerian delegation to the second Conference in Lima in October 1971. As for conferences of the non-aligned countries he was a member of the Algerian delegation to the second Summit Conference of Non-aligned Countries held in Cairo in 1964, and headed the Algerian delegation to the Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Non-Aligned Countries held in Dar es Salaam and he was General rapporteur of that Conference.
- He headed the Algerian delegation to the conference of Heads of States of Non-Aligned Countries held in Lusaka in 1970 and to the Conference of Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries, held in New York in 1971 and in Georgetown in 1972. He also headed the Algerian delegation to the conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs held in Kabul in 1973.
- He was president of the Conference of Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries entrusted with the preparation the Fourth Algiers Summit in 1973 and a member of the Algerian delegation to the Fourth Conference of Heads of States and Governments.
- In the organization of African Unity (OAU), Mr., Bouteflika was rapporteur of the first session of the Council of Ministers of the OAU held in Dakar in April 1963 and headed tie Algerian delegations at all sessions of the Council of Ministers since the organization was established. He was president of the eleventh session of the Council of Ministers held in Algiers in 1968.
- He was a member of the Algerian Delegation to the first and second Summit Conferences of States Member’s of the Arab league held in Cairo and Alexandria; head of the Algerian delegation to the Conference of Heads of States and Governments of Arab State held in Khartoum in 1967 and President of the Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs entrusted with the preparation for the sixth summit Conference of Heads of States and Governments held in Algiers in 1973.
- He was a member of the Algerian delegation to the first and second Summit Conference of Islamic Countries, held in Rabat (1969) and Lahore (1974); head of the Algerian Delegation conference of Ministers of Islamic Countries held in Benghazi (1972) and Kuala Lumpur(1974).
Mr Bouteflika returned to the political stage in 1999, when he stood for the presidency with the backing of the army. He was originally one of seven candidates, but the other six pulled out, protesting that the vote had been rigged in Mr Bouteflika’s favour.
Many saw him as the leader who could resolve the country’s lingering civil conflict, which had erupted after the army intervened to prevent an Islamist victory in the 1992 general election.
Just five months after he took office, he won overwhelming endorsement for a reconciliation plan that granted amnesty to thousands of Islamists. Western countries welcomed the amnesty and he transformed Algeria’s image internationally, becoming a frequent visitor to Paris and Washington.
As a result, he is widely credited with having restored peace to the country – and despite renewed allegations of ballot-rigging, many Algerians clearly felt he deserved another term in office.
Tens of thousands protest in Algeria as Bouteflika declares bid for 5th term
Students determined to pursue Algeria’s biggest anti-government protests in years boycotted classes on Monday to denounce an offer by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika not to serve a full term if re-elected. Hundreds of protesters took part in small demonstrations across the north African country, continuing almost two weeks of marches and rallies against the 82-year-old leader’s plan to seek a fifth term.
Bouteflika’s offer appeared aimed at undermining the youthful wave of opposition against his 20-year rule and shore up an establishment dominated by ageing revolutionary stalwarts of the 1954-62 independence war against France. Shops were open in Algiers but students did not show up for classes at Bab Ezzouar University in Algiers, the biggest in the oil-producing North African country. Several other university campuses in the capital Algiers were also deserted.
“We are not going to study, this is a decision we have taken yesterday,” Amina, a 21-year-old student, told Reuters.
“Together we are the world and the system is nothing,” a said a message posted by activists on social media.
Bouteflika’s campaign manager said on Sunday that the president would run in April elections, defying calls for him to quit at the end of his current term. Tens of thousands of protesters had rallied on Sunday in cities around Algeria, in the largest protests since the 2011 Arab Spring, calling on Bouteflika not to submit election papers for the April 18 polls. Zaalane filed the papers late on Sunday.
“How come Bouteflika asks for one more year, there is nothing in the constitution that allows this,” said Maziane Ali, a 50-year-old owner of a fast food restaurant.
- Abdelaziz Bouteflika Full Biography and Profile (BBC / Algerian Embassy / United Nations)