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Algeria's parliament appoints interim president, students protest

Abdelkader Bensalah (C) leaves after a meeting at the Palais des Nations in the Algerian capital Algiers on April 9, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Algeria’s parliament appointed its upper house chairman as interim president following the resignation of ailing Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the face of weeks of mass demonstrations against his rule.

Although Abdelkader Bensalah's appointment on Tuesday is in keeping with Algeria’s constitution, protesters, who want sweeping reforms, oppose figures like Bensalah, a close associate of Bouteflika who dominated Algeria for almost 60 years.

Shortly after the announcement in parliament, hundreds of mostly student protesters gathered in central Algiers, chanting slogans against Bensalah.

Police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Algeria’s powerful military, long seen as a kingmaker in Algerian politics, is yet to react to Bensalah’s appointment, but Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gaid Salah carefully managed Bouteflika’s exit after six weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations. Salah has also expressed support for protesters.

Algerian students carry banners as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on April 9, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Upon resignation, Bouteflika promised that elections would be held after 90 days as part of a transition he said would usher in a new era.

Under the Algerian constitution, Bensalah will remain interim president until new elections are held.

“We must work to allow the Algerian people elect their president as soon as possible,” the interim president told parliament.

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