Algeria's first post-Bouteflika leader dies aged 79

AFP , Wednesday 22 Sep 2021

Bensalah was speaker of the upper house of parliament when Bouteflika resigned in April 2019

Abdelkader Bensalah
File Photo: Abdelkader Bensalah after lawmakers named him as Algeria’s interim president on April 9, 2019. AFP

Veteran Algerian politician Abdelkader Bensalah, who served briefly as interim president after his mentor Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in 2019, died Wednesday aged 79, the president's office said.

His death after what friends said was a long illness came just days after that of Bouteflika, who died on Friday at the age of 84.

His funeral will be held after noon prayers on Thursday at the El Alia cemetery east of downtown Algiers.

Bensalah was speaker of the upper house of parliament when Bouteflika resigned in April 2019 after his announcement that he intended to stand for a fifth term triggered mass street protests.

Bensalah decided not to run in the eventual election for a permanent successor, and he handed over to its winner Abdelmadjid Tebboune after just eight months as president.

Even before Bouteflika's resignation, Bensalah had frequently stood in for the ailing president, who was rarely seen in public after a 2013 stroke.

In his youth, Bensalah fought in Algeria's independence struggle and then worked as a state media journalist for a decade before being elected to parliament in 1977.

He chaired the lower house's foreign affairs committee for 10 years and went on to serve as ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a foreign ministry spokesman.

It was Bouteflika himself who named his protege speaker of the upper house in 2002, a post he was to hold for the next 17 years.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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