Algerian military chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah has died

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - State media confirmed his death on Monday

Dec 23, 2019

December 23, 2019

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Algeria's powerful army chief Ahmed Gaed Salah has died, the private Ennahar television reported on Monday, at a time of bitter political divisions over the military's dominant role in the major energy exporter.

Gaid Salah died Monday morning in the military hospital of Algiers after a heart attack, according to state radio and state news agency APS.

General Salah, 79, became the nation's most powerful figure following the resignation of Algeria's last President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April. He was also reportedly close to the country's new leader, Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Africa's largest country has been riven by mass protests since February demanding a wholesale change in the ruling elite, including that the army step back from politics.

Gaid Salah was seen as the main power player in Algeria, especially since protesters with his backing pushed out the country’s longtime president in April.

He was present at the inauguration of the country’s new president just four days ago. He had suffered heart problems in the past, according to Algerian media reports, but his death came a shock to most Algerians.

Mr Tebboune declared an exceptional full week of mourning, an indication of the military chief’s importance.

Gaid Salah is being replaced on a temporary basis by another high-ranking general, Said Chengriha, according to state radio.

Gaid Salah also served as vice-minister of defence in the government. His decision to back protesters demanding the resignation of Mr Bouteflika earlier this year was pivotal. He was also behind the decision to hold new elections earlier this month.

However protesters later turned against Gaid Salah, demanding instead a wholesale makeover of Algeria’s political structure.

Updated: December 23, 2019 02:39 PM

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