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Algeria’s president Abdelaziz Bouteflika dies aged 84

Algiers, Algeria’s former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died at the age of 84, Algerian state television reported late Friday.

Bouteflika was the longest-serving president of Africa’s largest country.

He was long considered by as a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism.

Bouteflika had ruled the country for four consecutive terms since 1999.

Bouteflika came to power in 1999 during the final years of war between the state and Islamist factions.

Bouteflika negotiated a peace deal that led to a dramatic reduction in violence.

The politician was one of the last of a generation of Algerian leaders from the 1954-62 war of independence from France.

Born on March 1, 1937 in Morocco to Algerian parents, Bouteflika was a high school dropout.

At 19, he enlisted with the National Liberation Front (FLN), fighting in the west of the country under later president Houari Boumediene.

He became the country’s youngest minister when the country gained independence, winning the sports portfolio at 25.

Praised for his diplomatic and rhetorical skills, he soon moved on to foreign minister, a position he held for 16 years.

Bouteflika’s loyalists have praised him for keeping the country stable amid regional turmoil.

He had several foreign policy successes, such as brokering a peace agreement for Mali, settling the Ethiopia-Eritrea border war and establishing closer relations with Germany and the US.

He signed a declaration of friendship and cooperation with France’s then-president Francois Hollande in 2012 during a visit which saw Hollande admit the cruelty of French colonial rule in the country.

Health woes had plagued Bouteflika for years. In 2005, he spent several weeks in Paris receiving treatment.

He suffered his first stroke in 2013, and never fully recovered.

Source: Bahrain News Agency