Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, Algeria’s Deputy Minister for National Defense, Chief-of-Staff of the People’s National Army (ANP), 79, passed away on Monday following a heart attack, announced the Presidency of the Republic in a communiqué.
President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared a three-day national mourning following his death, Algeria Press Services reported.
President Tebboune announced that the head of land forces, General Said Chengriha would take over as Acting Chief of Staff of the armed forces.
The influence of the military is prominent in Algeria. Observers cited last week Tebboune’s presidential inauguration, during which he embraced Gaïd Salah and presented him with an order of merit immediately after his own swearing in.
Soon after mass protests erupted early this year, Gaïd Salah’s televised speech urging President Bouteflika to quit led to the veteran leader’s swift resignation.
Afterwards, the military staged arrests detaining several of Bouteflika’s allies and senior businessmen in an anti-corruption campaign.
Despite the election of Tebboune, nationwide mass protests are still ongoing, vowing to keep the demonstrations alive.
Last Friday, protesters took to the streets again rejecting the results of the elections, chanting “The vote is rigged. Your elections are of no concern to us and your President will not govern us.”