Algerian powerful army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah dies

Gaid Salah had attended newly elected President Tebboune's swearing-in ceremony in Algiers last week [File: Ramzi Boudina/Reuters]

Algerian strongman military chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, known for telling veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign, has died aged 79, official media say.

Algerian government radio said he died on Monday morning in an Algiers military hospital after a heart attack.

Mr Bouteflika, who ruled since 1999, resigned in April after mass protests, leaving Gen Salah as de facto leader.

The opposition has been calling for the whole of the old regime to quit power.

Gen Salah has been replaced as acting army head by Gen Said Chengriha and three days of mourning have been announced.

Gen Salah played a major role in organising presidential elections on 11 December, which were boycotted by the opposition, saying they were necessary to avoid the country descending into chaos.

The election, fought between five candidates closely associated with Mr Bouteflika, was won by former civil servant Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was dubbed as the “chosen one” on social media for being seen as close to the army chief.