The most powerful man in Algeria of the last 40 years has become a political nuisance even at the time of his death at 84 years old. The current Algerian leaders will have to decide whether the burial is carried out with state funerals, with the high risk of popular protests, or in a discreet way in the cemetery of The Alia, along with other figures. It is an example of how he fell from grace.
His environment of power forged among the politico-military leaders who made the revolution that started independence from France with a war that marked deep references, it was losing influence when Abdelaziz Buteflika He had to resign a fifth presidential term and resigned on April 2, 2019. He had assumed the presidency in 1999, although several years earlier he had already held power in the shadows. With his departure from power, notable collaborators of his were imprisoned for corruption.
His fall was caused by the announcement of his intention to stay in power despite his serious illness that caused the appearance of the Hirak, the popular protest movement that every Friday, for almost two years, peacefully flooded the streets of the main Algerian cities demanding political change and the end of the military regime. One of the key dates for Buteflika’s political and personal career was in 2013, when he suffered a ischemic vascular accident that left him almost paralyzed and unable to speak. From that moment on, his brother Said and the Chief of the Army General Staff, Ahmed Gaid Salah |They were the ones who applied the decisions of a president who had to spend several seasons hospitalized outside of Algeria.
Political memory is usually fragile and in his last years, alone and abandoned, few appreciated what was Buteflika’s greatest contribution to the history of Algeria: normalize the life of Algerians after a terrible civil war after winning the 1999 elections as an ‘independent’, after the resignation of the president Liamine Zeroual. The devastating confrontation against the Islamists and between sectors of the Army had cost the lives of 300,000 people and economic losses of more than 30,000 million dollars. With the support of the National Liberation Front and the Army, he asserted his great capacity for initiative that years before, when he was a young man at the age of 25 in 1962, had helped him to be Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism in the first government of Ben Bella.
The next step in his career was to be the youngest foreign minister in the world at 26 years old. Two years later, on June 18, 1965, he was dismissed, but the next day, the one who was Minister of Defense, Houari Boumediene, gave a coup. Then, Abdelaziz Butelfika began a journey through the desert that lasted 20 years, welcomed, among other institutions, as president of the United Nations General Assembly. His first two presidential terms were marked by having been able to end the war and the influence of the Islamists, but he was losing credibility when he resorted to a constitutional amendment in 2008 to be able to stand for reelection again.
History may do justice to an Algerian leader for his successes, but it may also present a very negative legacy in economic and social management, despite the wealth in oil and gas, a nepotism and corruption excessive and an appropriation of public goods by his environment that has earned him a harsh popular condemnation. In relations with its neighbor Morocco, it tried to reach a solution to the Sahara conflict but the military leadership prevented it. With Spain he acted with ambiguity regarding his reception of members of ETA and other terrorist groups, but when he became President in the 2000s he acted as a good friend of Spain with a notable increase in relations.