Algerian President Bouteflika names new campaign manager in pre-election shake up

Algerian President Bouteflika names new campaign manager in pre-election shake up
Algeria's controversial president has named his new campaign manager.
2 min read
03 March, 2019
Bouteflika is currently being treated in Switzerland [Getty]
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika fired his campaign manager on Saturday, announcing his replacement hours later.

Abdelghani Zaalane - a minister - was named as the new head of Bouteflika's campaign staff on Saturday night, according to Reuters.

Former premier Abdelmalek Sellal - who oversaw Bouteflika's past three successful re-election bids - was removed just hours ahead of a deadline for election hopefuls to formally submit their candidacy.

There was no reason why Abdelmalek Sellal was replaced as campaign manager, although on Tuesday he announced that Bouteflika would submit his papers to officially run for president for a fifth term.

Bouteflika is believed to have been suffering from ill health since suffering a stroke in 2013, and is currently in Switzerland for medical treatment.

Bouteflika's declaration three weeks ago that he would stand for a fifth term came in the shape of a written statement published by state media, rather than a speech to the people.

At least 183 people were injured in protests in Algeria's capital on Friday, authorities said, including the son of the country's former prime minister, with demonstrations against President Bouteflika intensifying.

It comes as resistance grows against ailing Bouteflika's bid for a fifth-term in power with tens thousands taking to the streets calling on the 82-year-old president to step down.

The protests were peaceful but small clashes erupted between them and police close to the presidential palace.

Officials reported that one person in his fifties died of a heart attack during the protests.

Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui claimed the man who was killed Hassan Benkhedda, the son of the former Prime Minister Benyoucef Benkhedda.

"The forensic medical investigations will clarify causes and circumstances of his death," the interior minister said in a tweet, according to Al Jazeera.

In a seperate statement, the minister said the man was in his fifties and killed in clashes between police and "thugs unrelated to the protesters".

Benkhedda's brother Salim, said Hassan took part in protests and was killed by Algeria's "ruling gang and its thugs".

Demonstrations on this scale are rare in Algeria, which suffered a brutal decade-long civil war in the 1990s, which saw hundreds of thousands killed.

Bouteflika has ruled Algeria since 1999, tightening the screws on the country with an all-powerful security state.

Agencies contributed to this story.