News ID: 241182
Published: 0312 GMT April 09, 2019

Bouteflika ally named Algeria's first new president in 20 years

Bouteflika ally named Algeria's first new president in 20 years

Algerian lawmakers appointed the speaker of the upper house as the country's first new president in two decades Tuesday, dismaying protesters seeking sweeping change following the resignation of veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The election of Abdelkader Bensalah as interim president follows constitutional rules but goes against the demands of demonstrators, who have pushed for him and other top politicians to stand down, AFP reported.

"I want to work towards fulfilling the interests of the people," Bensalah, a trusted ally of Bouteflika, told Parliament on taking up the 90-day interim presidency.

"It's a great responsibility that the constitution demands of me," the 77-year-old added.

Opposition parties refused to back the appointment of the seasoned establishment insider and boycotted the session, as thousands of students protested against him in Algiers.

"Resign Bensalah!" they chanted, clutching hand-written placards and Algerian flags.

For the first time in seven weeks police in the capital fired tear gas to try to disperse the protest by students, who were also hit with water cannon.

On Friday – in the first weekly mass protest since Bouteflika announced his departure after losing the military's support – Algerians demanded his insiders be excluded from the political transition.

Three men in particular have drawn demonstrators' ire: Bensalah, the head of the constitutional council Tayeb Belaiz and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

The protest movement is calling for a new transitional framework that is committed to deep reforms and organizing free elections.

Ahead of Bensalah's appointment, calls continued for the speaker to step down.




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