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Algeria’s Powerful Army Chief Dies
Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah, Algerian armed forces chief, attends the formal presidential swearing-in ceremony in the capital Algiers on December 19, 2019. (Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty Images)

Algeria’s Powerful Army Chief Dies

Algeria’s deputy defense minister and long-time army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah has died of a heart attack, state media reported on Monday. Gaed Salah was a key figure in bringing down former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. His death comes at a pivot point in the country’s history, with protesters charging that the entire ruling elite is tainted by Bouteflika’s rule and must be replaced. Just days ago, Abdelmadjid Tebboune won a presidential election that many protesters saw as illegitimate, charging that all of the candidates were prominent members of the discredited Bouteflika regime. Tebboune announced a three-day mourning period and said the head of land forces, Gen. Said Chengriha, would become acting chief of staff. Algeria’s military has played a prominent role in Algerian politics since its independence in 1962. Bouteflika’s resignation came quickly after Gaed Salah, in a televised speech, urged the former president to step down. The army then carried out an “anti-corruption” campaign that saw the arrest of many of Bouteflika’s allies. Despite Gaed Salah’s role in helping to push Bouteflika aside, many protesters called for Gaed Salah’s resignation because of their desire for “a civilian state, not a military state.”

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