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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Algeria has sworn in its first new president for twenty years after Abdelmadjid Tebounne was declared the winner of a contentious election last week amid huge nationwide protests.
Mr Tebounne, 73, a former prime minister, succeeds Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign after thousands took to the streets to protests his plans to stand for election for the fifth time - a contravention of the constitution.
People have continued to demonstrate every Friday since, demanding a full overhaul of the political system and calling for a boycott of the December 12 election due to claims it was not transparent or fair.
However, Mr Tebounne won 58 per cent of the vote with a turnout of 40 per cent and pledged to meet with the Hirak protest movement to “listen to them (and) take care of their concerns”.
He said he will make it a priority to revise the constitution to establish a “new Algeria” that corresponds to the aspirations of the movement, a project that would be put to a referendum.
Mr Tebounne was prime minister for less than three months in 2017, but was sacked when he tried to take on powerful business figures accused of corruption, something that curried him some favour with the Algerian street.
The four other candidates in the election, approved by state authorities, were all former senior officials, including another former prime minister, two former ministers, and a former member of the ruling party's executive committee.
While some celebrated the promise of a new leader in the hope it would mean an end to beurocratic deadlock and the return of the legislative power needed to implement the changes they desire, critics say the vote was a charade designed to keep the old ruling elite in power.
Protesters have vowed to continue their peaceful movement, saying that Mr Tebounne is loyal to the regime of the deposed president, and that any ruler elected under the current system is the civilian face for military rule.
He faces being caught between his lack of popular support with the people, which he must address, and the demands of the military who supported his candidacy.
Updated: December 19, 2019 03:37 PM
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