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Thousands Turn Out to Honor Algeria’s Dead Military Leader
A mourner holds a portrait of Ahmed Gaed Salah outside the Palace of the People in Algiers during the military leader’s funeral on December 25. (Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands Turn Out to Honor Algeria’s Dead Military Leader

Algerians got set to bury Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah on Wednesday, with a lavish funeral ceremony at the Palace of the People in the capital Algiers. Salah, 79, died of a heart attack on Monday. As head of the country’s military, he is said to have been the one who in April “convinced” ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika not only to withdraw his candidacy for another term, but to step down in the face of widespread public protests. The protests, however, quickly morphed into a full-fledged movement aimed at replacing the entire Algerian ruling elite – including Salah and his fellow generals, who have kept a firm grip on power, even if only behind the scenes, since independence from France in 1962. Salah’s mourners included many citizens who fear that such an overarching makeover risks plunging the country into anarchy. Yet many others took to the streets on Tuesday, ignoring a three-day official period of mourning, to keep up the pressure for comprehensive change in the country’s system of governance.

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