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Bouteflika returns to Algeria as ruling elite turn on leader

Bouteflika returns to Algeria as ruling elite turn on leader

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia handed his resignation to Bouteflika, who later appointed Bedoui in his place.

In response, a popular Algerian satirical Twitter account tweeted, "We said no to a fifth term".

The protests erupted last month against Bouteflika's plans to seek a fifth term, drawing millions to the streets.

State Department spokesman Robert Palladino did not directly address Bouteflika's decision, simply saying: "We're closely monitoring reports that Algeria's elections have been postponed". The president returned Sunday from two weeks in a Geneva hospital, but the exact state of his health is unclear. Local residents joined the march on Tuesday while more demonstrations were held in other Algerian cities.

National television broadcast footage on Monday night of Bouteflika in his trademark three-piece suit receiving several senior officials.

An Algerian youth waves a national flag as he sits atop a auto during a demonstration in the centre of the capital Algiers on March 11, 2019, after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his withdrawal. The 82-year-old has been largely absent from public life since a 2013 stroke, and his candidacy prompted speculation that he was a puppet of a small faction of civilian and military figures.

Peaceful nationwide protests began february 22 to protest Bouteflika's plan to run for a fifth term in April 18 elections.

But Bouteflika pledged to appoint a new government and a separate "national conference" tasked with rescheduling the election and drafting a new constitution.

A number of protests have also been staged in Switzerland against the Algerian president since he arrived in the country.

Macron also called for a transition period of "reasonable duration".

They were responding to calls on social media for renewed mass protests, after the cancellation of the April presidential polls raised fears of a ploy to extend Bouteflika's hold on power. "The war ended in a return to authoritarianism, and memories of the conflict have helped Bouteflika and his party stay in power".

"This new system and new republic will be in the hands of a new generation of Algerians", he said, promising a national conference lasting until the end of this year to find his successor.

"Algeria is turning into a monarchy against the people's will", Sabeha, who took part in demonstrations in Algiers on Monday, told Al Jazeera.

Many Algerians were concerned about his ailing health, and anxious that his death in office during a fifth term might cause unsafe political instability.

The Council has until Thursday to rule on candidates for Algeria's April 18 election.

"Without Bouteflika, the unelected groupings around him ... can no longer illegally exert power through him, which has been one of the key demands of the protesters", she said.