Former Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune has been elected as the eighth president of Algeria. Born in the small town of Mécheria in the Atlas Mountains (north-western Algeria) in 1945, Tebboune is a long-standing politician and is regarded as being particularly close to the current Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah, a national strongman after the resignation of the ill and elderly former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The newly-elected head of state will immediately have to face the very difficult task of dealing with the protests by the “Hirak” popular movement which since February has been demonstrating against “le Pouvoir” – the system that has governed the country in recent decades.
After several weeks of stagnation, the Popular Movement regained strength in the country’s main cities ahead of the poll: from Algiers to Oran, Annaba to Constantine, thousands of people took to the streets to say “no” to the vote being held in the current political conditions, as the election was seen to be failing to guarantee citizens’ freedom of choice. Beginning on Nov. 17, demonstrations were held in various moments of the electoral campaign with low attendance and a lack of interest from citizens, and were mostly focused in the Berber region of Kabylia where a general strike reached 80 percent participation. There was an iron-fisted reaction from the authorities, and particularly from the military, making numerous arrests and reiterating that the election would go ahead as scheduled in any case.