Algerians mass in capital in protest at new president

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Huge crowds massed in Algeria’s capital Friday in protest against the election of a former loyalist of deposed leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika as president in a widely boycotted poll.

“The vote is rigged. Your elections are of no concern to us and your president will not govern us,” chanted demonstrators who flooded central Algiers, an AFP journalist said.

They vowed to keep up their campaign for the total dismantling of the political establishment following Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s victory in Thursday’s poll.

“Tebboune is worse than Bouteflika. He’s known for being one of the thieves,” said Meriem, a 31-year-old civil servant. “We did not vote and we will not back down.”

The 74-year-old former prime minister took 58.15 percent of the vote, trouncing his four fellow contenders without the need for a second-round runoff, electoral commission chairman Mohamed Charfi announced.

The deeply unpopular election had been championed by the army as a way of restoring stability after almost 10 months of street protests.

All five candidates -- who included another former prime minister, Ali Benflis, 75, and an ex-minister, Azzedine Mihoubi -- were widely rejected by protesters as “children of the regime.”

Many Algerians see the government as inept, corrupt and unable to manage the flagging economy of the North African country.

Tebboune served in Boutefklika’s government as communications and then housing minister and was later briefly appointed as prime minister.