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Protests after former PM Tebboune elected Algeria’s new president

The 74-year-old received 58.15% of the vote in the oil-rich North African country.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune (AP Photo/Fateh Guidoum, File)
Abdelmadjid Tebboune (AP Photo/Fateh Guidoum, File)

By Aomar Ouali and Thomas Adamson, Associated Press

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a former prime minister and loyalist of Algeria’s influential army chief, has been elected the country’s new president in a vote boycotted by members of a nationwide protest movement, electoral authorities announced.

The 74-year-old received 58.15% of the vote in the oil-rich North African country, according to the head of the National Independent Electoral Authority, Mohamed Charfi. Turnout was just 41%.

Mr Tebboune served briefly as prime minister in 2017 under ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was ousted from power in April by a massive pro-democracy protest movement.

Tens of thousands of protesters responded by demanding a “free and democratic” Algeria and rejected the vote results, denouncing suspected fraud.

The largely peaceful marches took place in the capital Algiers as well as Oran, Constantine and other cities. Some were quickly dispersed by police. Algerian media reported numerous arrests.

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Demonstrators take to the streets in the capital Algiers (Toufik Doudou/AP)

Powerful army chief Gaid Salah is a much-criticised figure among members of the peaceful movement that began in February and has been called Algeria’s Arab Spring.

The election of an establishment figure provided little hope of changing the protesters’ view that the poll was rigged in favour of the old regime. Instead of new faces, two of the candidates were former prime ministers.

Mr Tebboune endured insults and protests during the 22-day campaign, and cancelled his final rally in Algiers.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets on election day on Thursday chanting “No to elections of shame” and “Generals in the garbage”.

Algeria is one of the most youthful countries in the world, with two-thirds of the population under 30. A quarter of those are out of work, creating frustration against the country’s veteran rulers and the policies that have left them behind.

The electoral authority was recently created in an attempt at transparency in a nation where leaders were thought to be chosen in advance.

The turnout in this vote compares to nearly 52% in 2014, which approved Mr Bouteflika’s final mandate.

PA

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