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Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quits after warning from nation’s army chief

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has left office after 20 years in power following a warning from the country’s army chief to “immediately” step down.

The 82-year-old’s decision also follows weeks of massive nationwide protests aimed at pushing him out of power.

According to the official APS news agency, Mr Bouteflika had notified the Constitutional Council of his decision to end his mandate.

Under the constitution, the president of the upper house, the Council of Nations, steps in as interim leader for a maximum of 90 days so that elections can be organised.

Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah had earlier in the day convened a meeting of the top military hierarchy, making clear the call for Mr Bouteflika to step down had the backing of the military.

The Defence Ministry statement referred to his entourage as a “gang” and said it had made “fraud, embezzlement and duplicity its vocation”.

Mr Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. His resignation caps six weeks of peaceful protest marches calling for him to make an exit.

The leader came to power in 1999 after years of unrest that followed the Islamic insurgency and brought back stability to a country devastated by killings and distrust.

As president, age and illness took its toll, and corruption scandals dogged him and associates.

He is accused of failing to create an economy that could offer enough jobs, despite the nation’s vast oil and gas wealth.

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