ALGIERS - Algeria's presidency said Monday that longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika will not seek a fifth term as president, despite filing the paperwork to do so last week.
The presidency also announced that elections, initially scheduled for April 18, will be postponed.
Algerian media also reported that Bouteflika has named Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui as the country's new prime minister and charged him with forming a new government.
Bedoui will replace Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who resigned earlier Monday.
Bouteflika, 82, returned to Algeria Sunday after having spent two weeks in Geneva, receiving what his office called routine medical checks. But many have speculated that the health of the longtime president, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, is far more serious.
The president returned to a third consecutive week of protests against his previously announced bid to run for a fifth term.
Bouteflika, who has ruled the North African country since 1999, officially filed paperwork to run for a fifth term roughly a week ago, but had vowed that if he won he would only serve for one year before holding new elections.
France, Algeria's former colonial ruler, welcomed the news of Bouteflika's change of heart.
"Following large demonstrations, that took place peacefully and in a dignified manner across Algeria, France expresses its hope that a new dynamic that responds to the aspirations of the Algerian people can get under way quickly," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
AB/ANA/12 March 2019 - - -