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Algeria lawmakers elect first new president in 20 years

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Algerian speaker of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, is pictured during a parliamentary session at the Palais des Nations in the Algerian capital Algiers on April 9, 2019, after Algerian lawmakers named him as interim president, following last week’s resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the face of mass protests. – The move by parliament follows constitutional rules but goes against the demands of demonstrators, who have pushed for Bensalah and other top politicians to stand down. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Lawmakers named the speaker of the upper house as Algeria’s first new president in two decades Tuesday, state television reported, after the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika following mass protests.

The election of Abdelkader Bensalah as interim president follows constitutional rules but goes against the demands of demonstrators, who have pushed for him and other top politicians to stand down.

“I want to work towards fulfilling the interests of the people,” Bensalah told parliament on taking up the 90-day interim presidency.

“It’s a great responsibility that the constitution demands of me.”

Opposition parties refused to back Bensalah’s election and boycotted the session, as hundreds of students protested against him in Algiers.

“Resign Bensalah!” they chanted outside the main post office, which has become the focal point of weeks of mass protests in the capital.

Ahead of the parliamentary session, an editorial in pro-government daily El Moudjahid on Tuesday suggested Bensalah should step aside from the presidential post.

He is not only “not tolerated by the citizen movement, which demands his immediate departure, but also by the opposition” and various political groups in both houses of parliament, the newspaper said.


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