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Algeria ex-PM to replace Bouteflika after boycotted Presidential election

By News Desk

Former Algerian Prime Minister, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has been elected president in a vote marred by protests, replacing the immediate past President, 74-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in April after two decades in power.

Tebboune took 58 percent of the votes in Thursday’s election, according to the head of the electoral commission.

It would be recalled that Tebboune and the four other candidates were criticised for being closely linked with the rule of Bouteflika.

Bouteflika stepped down following demonstrations across the country, kicking against his continued stay in office

Anti-government rallies have continued, however, with protesters demanding the sweeping away of the entire political establishment.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Algiers, on Thursday to protest against the election.

Tebboune rose from a long career as a civil servant to become prime minister in 2017 but lasted just seven months after falling out with influential businessmen. He also served as housing minister and information minister.

In his election campaign he promised to pursue taxpayer money “stolen and hidden abroad”.

Tebboune has been dubbed “the chosen one” by social media users who see him as close to army chief Gen Ahmed Gaid Salah, the county’s de facto leader.

Electoral officials say about nine million people voted on Thursday – a turnout of about 40%.

“The turnout is satisfying and it will give the new president enough backing to implement his reforms,” said Ahmed Mizab, a commentator on state television.

For nearly a year, thousands of Algerians have protested every Friday in the capital and other cities against any elections under the current government.

They want all officials associated with the regime of ousted President Bouteflika. including interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Nouredine Bedoui, to be removed from office.

“No election with the gangs”, “they must all be removed” protesters have chanted week after week, referring to the politicians and businessmen in the inner circle of the ousted president whom they see as corrupt.

They say new faces must be brought in to organise “real elections” in a country where the winner of presidential elections has always been easy to guess.

On Thursday, protesters briefly overran a polling station in Algiers. An attempt by police to disperse the crowd failed.

Two more voting centres were stormed in the Kabylie region, east of the capital.

It was army chief Gen Salah who triggered the removal of President Bouteflika, his former ally, when he called for his office to be vacated. The move was designed to appease nationwide protests against Bouteflika seeking a fifth term.

Since Bouteflika’s ousting in April, there have been sweeping arrests of wealthy businessmen and high-profile officials close to the former president and his inner circle.

They include his brother Saïd Bouteflika who was jailed for 15 years for conspiring against the state and undermining the military, along with former intelligence chiefs Mohamed Mediene Toufik and Athmane Bachir Tartag, as well as leftist party leader Louisa Hanoun.

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