Police officers try to disperse people trying to reach the government palace during a protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's plan to extend his 20-year rule by seeking a fifth term in April elections in Algiers, Algeria, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
Demonstrators try to reach the government palace during a protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's plan to extend his 20-year rule © Reuters

Since protests erupted in Algeria over single-party rule in 1988, the country has endured a bloody civil war and simmering dissent and struggled with a sluggish economy despite its oil and gas wealth.

As Algerians vent their anger over the announcement that 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika will stand for a fifth term as president, we look at key moments in the country’s recent turbulent history.

An eruption of anger

ALGIERS, ALGERIA: Riot policemen deploy in the streets of Algiers 10 October 1988, and one of them (behind) fires tear as. Security forces shot dead at least 25 people during its demonstration. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images)
The streets of Algiers in the aftermath of the 1988 riots © AFP

October 1988

Young Algerians take to the streets in an outpouring of rage against soaring unemployment and the one-party rule of the National Liberation Front (FLN), in power since independence from France in 1962.

The week-long riots, which became known as Black October, mark Algeria’s longest period of unrest for 26 years. Shops in the capital, Algiers, are torched and the offices of the FLN ransacked. Hundreds die after the army opens fire on protesters.


In a concession to public anger, the National People’s Assembly overturns a ban on new political parties and passes a law allowing opposition parties to fight elections. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) begins its spectacular rise as a political force, winning 55 per cent of the vote in local elections the following year.

January 1992

The Algerian army steps in to annul the country’s first free and fair parliamentary elections, won by the FIS the previous month, and forces Chadli Bendjedid (in power since 1979) to dissolve parliament and stand down.

The government declares a state of emergency and disbands the FIS and its local and regional council administrations. The crackdown triggers 10 years of bloody civil war with Islamist groups.

The army installs Mohamed Boudiaf, a founder member of the FLN who fought in the independence war against France, as head of state.

A bloody civil war

Algerian army officers gather behind the coffin of Algerian President Mohamed Boudiaf 01 July 1992 in Algiers during funeral rites. The Algerian head of State was assassinated by gunmen 29 June in the southern Algerian town of Annaba. (FILM) AFP PHOTO DURAND/SENNA (Photo credit should read ANDRE DURAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Algerian army officers with the coffin of assassinated president Mohamed Boudiaf © AFP

June 1992

Mr Boudiaf is killed while delivering a speech. The 73-year-old president is shot in the back of the head by one of his own security team, said to have ties to militant Islamists.

The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) emerges as one of the two main guerrilla groups fighting the government.


Liamine Zéroual, a retired colonel, is appointed head of state, winning the presidential election the following year with a comfortable majority.


More than 85 per cent of Algerian voters back constitutional changes in a referendum.


Some of the bloodiest incidents of the civil war take place in a wave of massacres in villages in western Algeria. The bloodshed is blamed on the GIA, but questions are raised over the army’s failure to stop the violence.

The newly created Democratic National Rally wins parliamentary elections while the moderate Islamic party, Movement of Society, makes a good showing at the polls.

A fragile peace

Algerian presidential candidate Abdelaziz Bouteflika, nominally independent but backed by Algeria's former sole ruling party, the National Liberation Front, addresses supporters in Adrar, some 1,400 kms south of Algiers, late 09 April 1999. Algerians will go to the polls 15 April 1999 in an early election to elect a new president to succeed outgoing president Liamine Zeroual who stepped down last September, 19 months before the end of his five-year term. (Photo by MANOOCHER DEGHATI / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANOOCHER DEGHATI/AFP/Getty Images)
Abdelaziz Bouteflika addresses supporters in Adrar ahead of the elections in April 1999 © AFP


Abdelaziz Bouteflika becomes president after opposition candidates pull out of the election amid concerns over vote-rigging. Despite his opaque regime, Mr Bouteflika wins popular approval for helping to bring an end to the civil war.

June 2003

After serving 12 years in prison, Abassi Madani — the leader of the outlawed FIS — is freed together with his deputy.

April 2004

Mr Bouteflika is re-elected for a second term in a landslide victory.

March 2005

A government-commissioned report acknowledges that Algeria’s security forces were responsible for the disappearance of more than 6,000 people during the 1990s.

September 2005

In a referendum, Algerians back an amnesty for those implicated in the violence.

The rise of al-Qaeda

Algiers, ALGERIA: A general view shows Algerian rescuers inspecting damages of the buildings of Prime minister's offices following a suicide car exploded near the Governmental Palace in the center of Algiers City 11 April 2007. At least 23 people were killed and scores injured in a series of car bombs that rocked the Algerian capital, including one that targeted the government headquarters. AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescuers inspect damage to the prime minister's office following a suicide car bombing © AFP

December 2006

A roadside bomb hits a bus carrying workers from a US oil company, killing one man. The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) claims responsibility.

January 2007

GSPC renames itself the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb and intensifies its attacks.

April 2007

Thirty-three people are killed and 80 injured in two bomb blasts in Algiers, one targeting the prime minister’s office.

Bouteflika settles in

FILE PHOTO: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen in Algiers, Algeria April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo
Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers in April 2018 © Reuters

November 2008

Parliament approves constitutional changes, allowing Mr Bouteflika to run for a third term. He wins re-election the following year.

January 2011

Rising food prices spark riots across Algeria.

February 2011

Mr Bouteflika lifts Algeria’s 19-year state of emergency in response to demands from the protesters.

September 2011

The president ends the state’s monopoly over radio and TV.

October 2012

Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader in Algeria, Boualem Bekai, is killed by the army.

December 2012

French president François Hollande acknowledges his country’s “unjust and brutal” occupation of Algeria but stops short of making an official apology.

An Algerian soldier stands near damaged cars used by Islamist militants during a siege earlier this month near the Tiguentourine Gas Plant in In Amenas, 1600 km (994 miles) southeast of Algiers, January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi (ALGERIA - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CRIME LAW) - GM1E92106MP02
An Algerian soldier stands near damaged cars used by Islamist militants during a siege at a gas plant in In Amenas © Reuters

January 2013

Dozens of foreign hostages are killed by the Islamist al-Murabitoun group in a four-day siege at a remote gas facility. Algerian special forces storm the site.

April 2013

Mr Bouteflika suffers a stroke and spends three months in France being treated.

April 2014

Mr Bouteflika wins another term as president in elections dismissed by opposition parties as flawed.

February 2016

Parliament passes constitutional reforms limiting presidents to two terms.

A sign with the image of the Algerian President and which reads, 'No to a 5th mandate' is placed at the base of a statue as protesters rally against the Algerian president's bid for a fifth term in office on February 24, 2019 at the Place de la Republique in Paris. - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is Algeria's longest-serving president and a veteran of its independence struggle who has clung to power since 1999 despite his ill health. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters rally against Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in office. © AFP

February 2019

Mr Bouteflika announces he will stand for a fifth term in Algeria’s forthcoming presidential elections, sparking protests.

March 8 2019

Algerians march in cities across the country in the biggest day of peaceful demonstrations yet against the ailing president’s bid for another term in office.

A convoy of Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is pictured while driving along the highway in Algiers, Algeria March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina
A motorcade believed to be carrying President Abdelaziz Bouteflika home heads along an Algiers highway © Reuters

March 10 2019

Mr Bouteflika returns to Algeria after two weeks in hospital in Geneva but no information was released about the state of his health. Algerians have not heard their president’s voice in six years.

March 11 2019

In the face of growing protests, Mr Bouteflika bows to public pressure and announces he will not seek a fifth term. In a letter to the nation, released by state media, he also says April’s elections will now be postponed.

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