Algeria: Abdelkader Bensalah to Manage Transition

(file photo).

The president of the Council of Nation, according to the Constitution will replace the ex-leader for the next 90 days.

Algeria's Transition President is Abdelkader Bensalah, formerly President of the Council of Nation (equivalent of the Senate.) He took over on April 2, 2019 after Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, was pressured by the military to immediately resign or be impeached for inability to perform his functions because of failing health. In his resignation speech, Bouteflika, 82, whose tenure was due to end on April 28, 2019, said his decision was informed by the desire to calm down frayed nerves and enable the country move forward towards a better future.

He explained that he wanted to prevent rising tension from degenerating into violence that could result in loss of life and property. "Similarly, the decision is an expression of my faith in a proud and dignified Algeria that takes its rightful place and fully plays its role in the concert of nations," Bouteflika noted. The President of the Council of Nation, according to the constitution, replaces the Head of State if he is unable to complete his tenure.

Aged 78, Abdelkader Ben salah has worked with Bouteflika since he came to power in 1999. He was appointed by the ex-President to the Council of Nation in 2002 where he soon became its leader. Ever since, he has been reelected every three years, and his current tenure was due to end in 2021.

A journalist by training, Bensalah is to manage the transition and organise fresh elections within 90 days for a new leader to take over. Formerly Editor-in-Chief of the daily newspaper, "Ech Chaab" ("The People") before being elected parliamentarian for Tlemcen Wilaya in 1977, he was later appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Upon return in the early 1990s, he held several cabinet and political positions, and became Speaker of the National Assembly in 1997. Abdelkader Bensalah's immediate task is to convince hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who have been taking to the streets since February 22, 2019, demanding a change of system of government, to end the protests. He will also need to reach consensus with the political class, powerful civil society and labour unions on the way forward. Above all, reuniting the fractured nation would be topmost on his agenda.

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