Veteran Algerian politician Abdelkader Bensalah, who served briefly as interim president after his mentor Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to resign in 2019, died Wednesday aged 79, the president’s office said.
Bensalah was named interim president after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down in April 2019 following mass street protests to reject his plan to seek a fifth term, and demand political and economic reforms.
Bouteflika, who ruled the North African country for two decades, himself died on Friday aged 84.
Protests continued after the resignation of Bouteflika despite the imprisonment of several senior officials for involvement in corruption cases during Bouteflika era.
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 protégé speaker of the upper house in 2002, a post he was to hold for the next 17 years.
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