'Heartbreaking' end to Bouteflika's reign, but the 'mood had changed' - Sisulu

2019-04-05 13:43
Abdelaziz Bouteflika (File: AFP)

Abdelaziz Bouteflika (File: AFP)

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International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the way elderly former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was made to step down was "heartbreaking" but said the "mood had changed" in Algeria.

Bouteflika, who had been in power for 20 years, stepped down on Tuesday after six weeks of anti-government protests, sparked by his announcement that he would run for a fifth term in the elections, which were scheduled for this year.

Sisulu reacted to a question from News24 following a lecture on South African foreign policy at Wits University on Wednesday night on the ailing 82-year-old's resignation the day before.

She said the government had discussions about what was happening with the then Algerian foreign minister Abdelkader Messahel when he visited South Africa last week to attend a solidarity conference on the Western Sahara.

READ: Algeria after Bouteflika: What happens now?

"I think we all understood that perhaps there was a need to renegotiate the space that was expected after the departure of President Bouteflika," she said.

"The governing party has conceded that President Bouteflika will step down, which he has graciously done. We wish he could have stepped down under more generous circumstances. He's contributed a lot to our struggle and to the African agenda. We have a great deal of respect for him."

She said South Africa would revise its foreign policy stance on Algeria but at the moment the mood there was fluid.

"The world has changed and unfortunately Algerian politics had not moved fast enough to accommodate the mood that has engulfed Algeria. It is unfortunate that a man such as Bouteflika had been requested to step down and I am hoping there will be a negotiated settlement, and that this would lead to early elections, and that we will see a settlement going forward."

Read more on:    lindiwe sisulu  |  abdelaziz bouteflika  |  algeria
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