Algeria's former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika laid to rest after sombre ceremony

Government officials and foreign diplomats pay their respects to the leader

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s longest-serving president, was laid to rest on Sunday at a cemetery for the country’s independence heroes.

Laid Rebiga, Algeria’s minister for independence fighters, read a eulogy at the service for Bouteflika, who died on Friday, aged 84.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, government officials and foreign diplomats were also at the ceremony.

The funeral procession travelled from Bouteflika’s home to the cemetery east of the capital, Algiers, and bystanders filmed it with their mobile phones.

An armoured vehicle towed the flag-draped coffin on a gun carriage adorned with flowers and escorted by lines of police on motorcycles, AFP news agency reported.

Bouteflika’s career took him from being from the world’s youngest foreign minister to one of its oldest presidents.

He was Algeria’s first foreign minister after it gained independence from France in 1962.

Known for wearing his trademark three-piece suit even in the stifling heat, Bouteflika earned respect in the 1970s and was credited with helping to foster peace after the end of the country’s civil war.

He became president of Algeria in 1999 on a wave of popular support. He presided over initial economic growth and a rebuilding of the country, although high unemployment and shrinking opportunities mired his later years in power.

Bouteflika had a stroke in 2013, won re-election in 2014 and resigned in 2019, when his bid for a fifth term as president sparked protests on the streets. He largely stayed out of the public eye after leaving office.

Updated: September 19th 2021, 5:00 PM