French President Emmanuel Macron (C) meets with soldiers on the French military base in Djibouti. Image Credit: AFP

Djibouti: French President Emmanuel Macron urged Algerian authorities to organise a “reasonable” transition after President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika dropped a bid for a fifth term in office and scrapped upcoming elections.

“I welcome the decision by President Bouteflika, which is the start of a new page in the development of Algeria’s democracy,” Macron told a press conference during a visit to Djibouti in east Africa.

“I welcome the dignity with which the population and particularly Algeria’s youth, was able to express its hope, its desire for change, as well as the professionalism of the security forces,” he added.

But he argued the country needed “a transition in a reasonable time frame” from Bouteflika’s 20-year rule.

The Paris government has been extremely cautious in its statements about Algeria in recent weeks amid concern it could be seen to be intervening in the affairs of its former north African colony.

French policymakers remain concerned about the risk of political instability in the energy-rich country, which has seen more than two weeks of peaceful demonstrations against Bouteflika.

In a message carried by Algerian news agency APS late Monday, the 82-year-old leader said that new elections would follow a national conference on political and constitutional reform to be carried out by the end of 2019.

Macron called the outcome “a sign of maturity”.

“We will do everything to accompany Algeria in this transition with friendship and respect,” he added.