Algerian president returns home after 'routine medical checks' in Geneva

Algerians bemused as Bouteflika pulls out of presidential race postpones election

Algerians bemused as Bouteflika pulls out of presidential race postpones election

While the president promised to present his reshuffled cabinet soon, he has already presented a new prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, the former interior minister, and a deputy prime minister, Ramtane Lamamra, who will also serve as foreign minister.

Numerous police officers had been stationed near the VIP wing on the eighth floor of the HUG earlier Sunday afternoon, as television crews waited outside hoping to catch a glimpse of Bouteflika's departure, according to another AFP journalist.

Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke in 2013 and has rarely been seen in public, faces mass protests in Algeria over his plans to stand for a fifth term.

The president's office announced in a statement on Sunday evening, cited by the official press agency APS, that Bouteflika had returned to Algeria on Sunday after two weeks in hospital in Geneva following "periodic medical examinations".

In the clearest indication yet that the generals sympathise with protesters, the chief of staff said the military and the people had a united vision of the future, state TV reported. Lieutenant General Gaed Salah did not mention the protests.

Algerian president returns home after 'routine medical checks' in Geneva

But there are no signs Algerians are prepared to heed that call after rejecting Bouteflika's offer to limit his term after the election.

In response to the demonstrations, the National Liberation Front - the top Algerian party backing Bouteflika - said it was ready to work with all parties to end the crisis "with the least cost to the country".

Demonstrations against Bouteflika's bid for another term have brought tens of thousands of protesters onto Algeria's streets for each of the last three Fridays, with smaller demonstrations taking place on other days.

Teachers and students had gone on strike at several universities, many shops closed and train services were suspended as thousands demonstrated. We are against a fifth term. Algerians are also letting out pent-up anger at corruption that has left the country's oil and gas riches in the hands of a few while millions of young people struggle to find jobs.

Bouteflika has been at the helm of the North African country since 1999. Now some have appeared at demonstrations to demand reforms. Algeria has stagnated for decades under veterans of the independence war who dominate the country.

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