19 Sep 2021 13:07 GMTUpdated 3 hours ago
The body of former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was buried on Sunday in the Martyrs’ Square in the Alia cemetery in the capital, Algiers, dedicated to the heroes of the war of independence.
A military vehicle decorated with flowers, preceded by a vehicle carrying soldiers, was seen dragging the body through the streets of the capital to its high cemetery.
The funeral was attended by the Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, senior state officials and representatives of the diplomatic corps, as well as the Bouteflika family.
Algerian Minister of Mujahideen and Rights Holders, Eid Rabiqa, said that “Algeria bid farewell to a mujahid whose contributions will remain in history, along with those comrades who wrote their names in prominent letters during the days of the armed struggle.”
Flags were flown at half-mast in Algeria on Sunday for three days, prior to Bouteflika’s funeral. The custom in Algeria upon the departure of presidents was to declare eight days of national mourning, as has been the custom since independence following the loss of any national leader.
President Bouteflika passed away on Friday at the age of eighty-four.
Said Bouteflika’s lawyer, Salim Hagouti, told Sabq Press, that Said, Bouteflika’s brother, a prisoner who was considered the de facto president of the country during the president’s illness, was allowed to attend the funeral.
Bouteflika was forced to step down two years ago, and submitted his resignation from his position in April 2019, after the army abandoned him after weeks of popular protests in protest at his bid to run for a fifth presidential term.
Several Algerian officials who were close to Bouteflika during his rule are imprisoned on charges of corruption and abuse of office, including his brother Said.
Bouteflika came to power in 1999 on the back of a wave of popular support, as his amnesty offer to Islamist militants helped end a decade-long civil war.
The announcement of Bouteflika’s death was met with silence in Algeria, the former French colony, which was interpreted as being absent from public attention.
A statement issued by the current Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, referred to Bouteflika’s past as a fighter in the war of independence. The statement said the flags would be lowered for three days in his honor.
On Saturday, King Mohammed VI of Morocco sent a message of “condolences” to the president. According to the Maghreb Arab News Agency.
Analysts were divided in assessing the period of his wisdom. Some of them believe that Bouteflika has drawn the history of the country since independence and that his name “will remain engraved in the collective memory despite the criticism directed at him.”
Others believe that two decades of his rule were a time of missed opportunities. During them, state institutions lost credibility and were more weak and divided.
On the streets of Algiers, many residents told AFP that they would not miss President Bouteflika because he had done nothing for the country, but they prayed for his soul.
But some believe that Bouteflika served his country, but unfortunately he made a big mistake when he ruled for a fourth presidential term and sought to obtain a fifth presidential term while ill.
Deterioration in health and protests
The late president was nicknamed “Botev” by the Algerians. He was known for his three-piece suit even in sweltering temperatures, and earned respect as foreign minister in the 1970s as well as for helping to promote peace after the civil war.
Algeria has largely escaped the uprisings that swept most Arab countries in 2011, something many attribute to memories of the civil war and government subsidies.
But Bouteflika’s rule was marked by corruption, according to many, leaving many Algerians wondering how a country with vast oil wealth could end up with poor infrastructure and high unemployment, which has led many young people to emigrate outside the country.
Bouteflika faced criticism from rights groups and opponents, who accused him of authoritarianism.
He suffered a small stroke in April 2013 that affected his ability to speak, and had to use a wheelchair. However, he decided to seek a fourth term.
His nomination in 2019 for a fifth term sparked protests that quickly developed into a pro-democracy movement known as the Hirak.
Although some figures who ruled under Bouteflika were eventually imprisoned, it is widely believed that the old guard, which controlled Algeria during his reign, still largely control the country’s administration.
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