After eight months without a leader, Algeria swore in its new president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, on Thursday, a week after an election that was rejected by a mass protest movement as a charade designed to keep the old ruling elite in power.
The governing elite hopes Abdelkader Tebboune’s inauguration allows their gas-rich country to turn the page on 10 months of protests that have thrown their legitimacy into doubt and stalled the economy.
Tebboune, a 74-year-old former prime minister considered close to Algeria’s powerful army chief, was elected last week with 58 percent of the vote in an election boycotted by members of the country’s peaceful protest movement.
He has promised to reach out to the protesters and to fight corruption, a major problem in Africa’s biggest country. Tebboune inherits a large youth population disillusioned with unemployment and out-of-touch rulers, and myriad economic challenges.
The protesters helped push out Tebboune’s predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in April after 20 years in power, and now they want a whole new power structure. They rejected the election because it was organized by Algeria's secretive political elite.
Algeria remains a key ally of Western powers fighting terrorism in the region, and foreign dignitaries are expected to attend Thursday’s inauguration in the presidential palace of the capital, Algiers.