Feb 25 (Reuters) - Algeria has officially lifted a 19-year state of emergency in a concession to the opposition to try to prevent any spread from a series of uprisings across the Arab world.
An order signed by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika lifting the state of emergency came into force on Thursday after it was published in the government's official gazette.
Here are some facts about Bouteflika, 73.
* Bouteflika won the presidency in 1999 with the backing of the army. He promised to end violence with Islamist rebels that began after the cancellation of a 1992 parliamentary election that an Islamic party was set to win.
* In 2004, Bouteflika became the only head of state to be re-elected in democratic polls since independence from France in 1962.
* Born on March 2, 1937, Bouteflika was a veteran of Algeria's war for independence from France. He served as foreign minister for 16 years until 1979.
* After the death of President Houari Boumedienne, his fortunes waned, and he went into self-imposed exile in 1981 to escape corruption charges that were later dropped. He returned to Algeria in 1987.
* Bouteflika has overcome years of isolation for Algeria, welcoming a succession of foreign heads of state and government to Algiers, but his socialist-oriented economic policies have failed to wean the economy off its reliance on oil and gas.
* He has described France's 130-year rule as barbaric and urged France to apologise for massacres of Algerians, but he underwent medical checks in France in 2006. He was operated on there for a haemorrhagic stomach ulcer in December 2005.
* In 2009 Bouteflika took 90.24 percent of the vote in a presidential election to win a third five-year term as leader. An opposition party which had called for a boycott of the poll alleged fraud on an "industrial scale" and a newspaper reported rioting east of the capital -- a reminder of the anger over poverty and unemployment felt in parts of the country. * Bouteflika, seeking to prevent opposition calls for protests from building momentum, promised this month more democratic freedoms and ordered new job-creation measures. But Bouteflika said earlier this month that a ban on protest marches would remain despite lifting the emergency rules.
* The mystery illness suffered by Bouteflika is cancer, not the stomach ulcer suggested by state media, leaked U.S. diplomatic cables have suggested. U.S. embassy messages from the WikiLeaks cache of State Department documents, independently reviewed by Reuters, said the alleged cancer was in remission.
© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reservedhttp://af.reuters.com/article/algeriaNews/idAFLDE71O0O520110225?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=algeriaNews&rpc=401&sp=true