Algeria‘s presidency has announced the formation of a new caretaker government, with the country’s army chief keeping his post as deputy defence minister despite his calls for the removal of embattled President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
State TV reported on Sunday that Sabri Boukadoum had been appointed foreign minister, replacing Ramtane Lamamra who had taken up the post earlier this month.
Other notable changes included Central Bank Governor Mohamed Loukal and Mohamed Arkab being named finance and energy ministers.
The cabinet is led by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who assumed his duties on March 11 amid widespread protests calling for the departure of Bouteflika and the ruling elite.
The weeks-long demonstrations erupted late on February after the 82-year-old president announced a plan to seek a fifth term in elections scheduled for April.
Amid mounting public anger, Bouteflika later gave in to protesters’ demands and abandoned his re-election bid – but also delayed the vote indefinitely and announced he would only step down once a new constitution had been passed and a successor had been elected.
Opposition leaders and protesters denounced the move as an attempt by the ailing leader to extend his fourth term in office, set to expire on April 28.
The victim of a debilitating stroke in 2013, Bouteflika has in recent weeks seen some of his closest allies, including ruling party executive and trade union leaders, abandon him.
Earlier this week, army chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah called for the application of a provision in the Algerian constitution that could remove the president on account of his failing health.
In a televised address on Tuesday, Salah, the army chief, said he considered the people’s demands to be valid and that the presidency should be vacated.
“We must adopt a solution that helps us out of this crisis … a solution that respects and adheres to the constitution so that it’s a suitable one for all sides,” Salah, who is also the deputy defence minister, said in a televised address on Tuesday.
Addressing an Arab League summit in Tunis on Sunday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed efforts towards a peaceful and democratic transition in Algeria.