President of Algeria since 1999, and foreign minister between 1963 and 1979, in which time he was a renowned leader of the non-aligned movement.

Born on 2 March 1937 in Oujda, he became youth, sport, and tourism minister in 1962, and foreign minister to the new military regime of Houari Boumédienne in 1963. In 1978 Boumédienne died and Bouteflika gave the funeral oration. But the following year he was controversially accused of corruption, and lost office; he went into exile in 1980, returning several times later.

The military would have liked him to head the ruling council they had set up in the aftermath of annulling the Islamist victory in national elections, but Bouteflika refused. When President Liamine Zeroual called early presidential elections in April 1999, Bouteflika stood, although opposition candidates all withdrew because they couldn't believe in the fairness of it. In his presidency he has negotiated with the main Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and achieved some success in reducing the scale of violence, with offers of amnesty.

In his years as foreign minister, one of the main events was in 1975 when Carlos, the Jackal hijacked all the oil ministers of the OPEC countries, meeting in Vienna, and flew them to Algiers. Bouteflika embraced the Jackal as a fellow revolutionary and refused to arrest him. This added to Algeria's reputation as an independent and troublesome giant of the Third World.

< Liamine Zeroual - Algeria

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