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Algeria's new president Tebboune is sworn in

Newly elected Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune takes the oath during a swearing-in ceremony in Algiers, Algeria December 19, 2019.
Newly elected Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune takes the oath during a swearing-in ceremony in Algiers, Algeria December 19, 2019. Ramzi Boudina, REUTERS

Former prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune was sworn in as the new president of protest-hit Algeria on Thursday, a week after winning a widely boycotted election.

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He succeeds veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced from office in April in the face of mass demonstrations.

Tebboune must now address the grievances of the protesters, who have remained on the streets to prevent what they see as a ploy by the political elite to retain its hold on power.

The 74-year-old is seen as close to the armed forces chief, Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has been the North African country's effective ruler since Bouteflika quit.

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He and other top brass attended the swearing-in ceremony alongside Tebboune's defeated rivals for the presidency.

While Tebboune's period as prime minister ended with his sacking by Bouteflika, protesters see the longtime regime insider as part of the same corrupt system that has ruled Algeria since independence in 1962 -- a system they want dismantled.

Following his election, Tebboune vowed to "extend my hand to the Hirak (protest movement) for a dialogue", appoint young ministers and push for a new constitution.

Demonstrators responded by hitting the streets once again, calling Tebboune "illegitimate".

The country's grinding political crisis may be exacerbated by its economic situation.

Algeria is heavily dependent on oil exports and its budget has been hard hit by low crude prices, which could force Tebboune to take unpopular decisions.

(AFP)

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