Algeria's President Bouteflika Names Caretaker Government

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

President Bouteflika kept his army chief -- who earlier this week had called the president medically unfit for office -- as a deputy minister. The ailing leader has faced weeks of street protests against his 20-year rule.

Algeria's embattled president named a caretaker government Sunday that features a powerful army chief who had called for his removal.

The decision follows weeks of mass protests calling on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.

What you need to know:

The cabinet is composed of 27 ministers; 21 did not hold ministerial posts in the previous government.

Bouteflika will retain his post as defense minister.

General Gaid Saleh will remain as military chief of staff and deputy defense minister.

Noureddine Bedoui will lead the government as prime minister.

Shaky support: Bouteflika's grip on power appears to be fading after some of his close allies deserted him in recent days. General Saleh has repeatedly called on the president to step down or be declared medically unfit for office.

Mass discontent: Anti-Bouteflika street protests erupted after Bouteflika said he would seek a fifth term as president. The president has since renounced his bid to run in the next presidential race. But he also canceled the vote, which was scheduled for April, angering many demonstrators.

UN head weighs in: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Sunday that Bouteflika's government should take steps "that addresses theconcerns of the Algerian people in a timely way."

Who is Bouteflika? The 82-year-old president has ruled Algeria for 20 years. He had a stroke in 2013 and has rarely been seen in public since.

(AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)

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