By AFRICA NEWS… Algeria’s lawmakers on Tuesday appointed the upper house chairman Abdelkader Bensalah as interim president following the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika after weeks of mass protests against his rule.
Protesters, who are demanding sweeping democratic reforms, are opposed to figures like Bensalah, a close associate of Bouteflika and his inner circle who dominated Algeria for decades.
Upon stepping down last week, Bouteflika promised that elections would be held after 90 days as part of a transition he said would usher in a new era.
His appointment is in keeping with Algeria’s constitution but protesters, who want sweeping democratic reforms, oppose figures like Bensalah, a close associate of Bouteflika and his inner circle who dominated Algeria for decades.
Shortly after the announcement in parliament, hundreds of mostly students protested in central Algiers, some chanting “Bensalah go”.
“We must work to allow the Algerian people elect their president as soon as possible,” Bensalah told parliament.
The big question is how Algeria’s powerful military – long seen as a kingmaker in Algerian politics — will react to Bensalah’s appointment and any opposition that arises.
Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gaid Salah carefully managed Bouteflika’s exit, which came after six weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations.
Salah has expressed support for protesters, who want democratic reforms after almost 60 years of monolithic rule by veterans of the 1954-62 independence war against France.