Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Algeria's parliament confirms Bensalah as interim president

Algeria's parliament confirms Bensalah as interim president

Algeria's parliament has appointed upper house speaker Abdelkader Bensalah new interim president after the long-time head of state, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, stepped down in a public address last week.

Opposition parties refused to back Bensalah's election and boycotted the session, as hundreds of students protested against him in Algiers.

On stepping down, Bouteflika promised that elections would be held after 90 days as part of a transition.

"You can not afford to have, in a country like Algeria, a disconnect between a political elite - which is more and more isolated - and a growing democracy movement which is saying the results that we are seeing so far fall short of our demands".

"It's a great responsibility that the constitution demands of me", Bensalah told parliament as he began his 90-day interim presidency.

Lawmakers have confirmed the appointment of Abdelkader Bensalah as Algeria's interim president, despite calls from protesters to exclude regime stalwarts from the top post.

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"They don't know that there's democracy..."

Protests have continued following Bouteflika's resignation, with 20 Algerian civil society groups said they would refuse a transition of power that maintained the same political structures in place, calling for protests on Friday for "democratic change".

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the army will work to ensure "the Algerian people's legitimate right to enjoy total tranquility for the present and the future".

Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gaid Salah carefully managed Bouteflika's exit after declaring him unfit to stay in power and expressed support for protesters, who have put up little resistance to the military. This time, too, it was the army that gave the final push to Bouteflika.

With Bouteflika out, protesters are mainly focusing their anger on other key figures, dubbed the "three Bs": Bensalah, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui and the head of the Constitutional Council, Tayeb Belaiz.

Bensalah, 77, has cultivated a low-key profile despite holding numerous positions over the past quarter-century. Protesters have said: "Street pressure will continue until the system goes".

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