Algeria buries ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in muted funeral

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Algeria’s longest-serving president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was buried on Sunday in a cemetery dedicated to the country’s independence heroes, but without the honors bestowed on his predecessors.

Bouteflika died on Friday, at the age of 84, after a career that saw him rise from being the world’s youngest foreign minister to one of the world’s oldest leaders of state, only to tumble from power.

Since exiting office in April 2019, the veteran strongman had lived in seclusion after the military abandoned him following weeks of mass protests spurred by his attempt for a fifth presidential term.

The lack of a state funeral and only three days of national mourning instead of eight reflected a mixed legacy that left many Algerians uninterested in the ritual.

“To tell you the truth, I’ve got better things to do than attend the funeral of a president who left the country in such a bad position,” Fares, a retired banking sector employee, told AFP in Algiers.

Bouteflika, who originally served as foreign minister in the mid-1960s, was elected president in 1999 on a tide of popular popularity after his offer of amnesty to Islamist insurgents helped end a decade-long civil conflict.

However, despite early economic progress and high oil prices, Algeria’s crude exporter faced mounting corruption and unemployment, which became important drivers of the Hirak pro-democracy movement that eventually toppled him.

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