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“I am super happy and excited. We have won a battle. This will be a sleepless night”, Bilal, a 27-year-old carpenter, told Al Jazeera in downtown Algiers as he and thousands of other Algerians celebrated President Abdelaziz Bouteflikas resignation.

The ailing, 82-year-old leader announced he was stepping down with immediate effect in a letter published by state-run APS news agency on Tuesday, just hours after the army chief demanded action to remove him from office.

“My intention … is to contribute to calming down the souls and minds of the citizens so that they can collectively take Algeria to the better future they aspire to,” Bouteflika said in the letter to the president of the Constitutional Council.

“I have made this decision to avoid and prevent the arguments which distort, unfortunately, the current situation, and avoid its turning into serious skirmishes, to ensure the protection of persons and property,” he added.

Under the capitals Tunnel des Facultes that leads to Maurice Audin square, a jubilant group of protesters, some draped in the national flag, jumped up and down with excitement, while singing “the country is ours and we will do what we want”. Others set off fireworks at the entrance of the tunnel.

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