By Ebi Kesiena
The North African country of Algeria has buried Abdelaziz Bouteflika, its longest-serving President, at a cemetery for its independence heroes, but without the honours accorded to his predecessors.
Bouteflika passed away on Friday at the 84, having lived as a recluse since he was forced from power more than two years ago.
The veteran strongman had lived as a recluse since quitting office in April 2019 after the military abandoned him, following weeks of street protests sparked by his bid to run for a fifth presidential term.
His muted funeral, with no lying-in state and just three days of national mourning instead of eight, reflected a mixed legacy that left many Algerians indifferent to the ceremony.
Bouteflika, who had first served as Foreign Minister in the mid-1960s, swept to the presidency in 1999 on a wave of popular support, as his amnesty offer to Islamist militants helped bring an end to a decade-long civil war.
But despite economic progress amid high oil prices in the early years of his rule, crude exporter Algeria, later saw growing corruption and unemployment which became key drivers of the Hirak pro-democracy movement which eventually ousted him.
His funeral was attended by his successor, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, while the eulogy was read by the Minister for Algeria’s independence fighters, Laid Rebiga.
An armoured vehicle towed his flag-draped coffin on a gun carriage adorned with flowers and escorted by lines of police on motorcycles.
Government members and foreign diplomats attended the ceremony, guarded by blue and black-uniformed security officers.
The procession travelled from Bouteflika’s nursing home to the cemetery east of downtown Algiers, as bystanders filmed it with their mobile phones.
Only journalists from Algerian national public media were given access to the ceremony which was not broadcasted live, in contrast to the fanfare of previous presidential deaths.
The People’s Palace, where other presidents had lain in state, appeared to have been prepared to display his remains before the interment, but this was cancelled.
The ceremony was not broadcasted live, and on the streets of Algiers, residents showed little interest.