President’s promise of ‘deep reforms’ has calmed protests but may not be the end of the crisis

In the first line of Abdulaziz Bouteflika’s letter to the nation on Monday night, the Algerian president said the country was living through a sensitive stage of its history. On this, at least he and his compatriots are agreed.

The 82-year-old politician, who has had a series of strokes that have left him in poor health, has been in power since 1999. The announcement thathe would not be seeking a further five-year term caused widespread celebration. This was the principal demand of the hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – who marched peacefully through cities and towns across Algeria on Friday in protests on a scale not seen for decades.

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