Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

Abdelmadjid Tebboune sworn in as Algeria's new president

Former prime minister succeeds Abdelaziz Bouteflika after winning widely boycotted election

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, left, embraces the interim president Abdelkader Bensalah during the formal swearing-in ceremony in Algiers . AFP
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, left, embraces the interim president Abdelkader Bensalah during the formal swearing-in ceremony in Algiers . AFP

Algeria has sworn in its first new president for 20 years after Abdelmadjid Tebounne was declared the winner of a contentious election last week, amid huge nationwide protests.

Mr Tebounne, 73, a former prime minister, succeeds Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign after thousands took to the streets to protest against his plans to stand for election for the fifth time, in a contravention of the constitution.

People have continued to demonstrate every Friday since, demanding a full overhaul of the political system and calling for a boycott of the December 12 election due to claims it was not transparent or fair.

But Mr Tebounne won 58 per cent of the vote with a turnout of 40 per cent and pledged to meet the protest movement to “listen to them and take care of their concerns”.

Interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, left, holds the hand of the new Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. AFP
Interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, left, holds the hand of the new Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. AFP

He said he would make it a priority to revise the constitution to establish a “new Algeria” that answers the aspirations of the movement, a project that would be put to a referendum.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, congratulated Mr Tebboune on his new responsibilities.

In a phone call, Sheikh Mohamed said he wished further progress and prosperity for the Algerian people.

Mr Tebounne was prime minister for less than three months in 2017, but was sacked when he tried to take on powerful business figures accused of corruption, which gives him some credence with protesters.

The four other candidates in the election, approved by state authorities, were also former officials: a prime minister, two ministers, and a member of the ruling party's executive committee.

Protesters are unhappy with the announcement because they say they want a complete break from the old political elite.

Updated: December 20, 2019 02:46 AM

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