Long reigning President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria has resigned from office, the state news agency said on Tuesday.
The sudden resignation came in the wake of the demand by the country’s powerful army chief of staff that he be declared unfit and leave office “immediately”.
“We believe there is no more time to waste” on starting a constitutional process to declare Bouteflika unfit for office, said a statement released by Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah.
“Our decision is clear and irrevocable. We will support the people until their demands are fully and completely satisfied,” the statement added.
Bouteflika had promised to resign before 28 April when his term expires. But the impatient military demanded the immediate launch of impeachment proceedings against him.
“Any decision taken outside the constitutional framework is considered null and void,” the general said.
Without naming anyone, Gaid Salah criticised “the stubbornness, the procrastination and the deviousness of certain individuals who are trying to make the crisis last and make it more complex with the only concern being their narrow personal interests”.
He said the army’s “sole ambition” was to “protect the people from a handful of (other) people who have unduly taken over the wealth of the Algerian people”.
Bouteflika has come under mounting pressure to step down since his decision to seek a fifth term despite rarely being seen in public after suffering a stroke in 2013.
The 82-year-old, who uses a wheelchair, said last month he would pull out of the race and postponed April elections, in moves that angered protesters who saw it as a ploy to extend his two decades in power.
Gaid Salah, a long-time Bouteflika ally, last week called on the president to resign or be declared unfit to rule, becoming one of the first of his faithful supporters to abandon him