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Algeria's new 'old regime' president pledges to amend constitution after 'boycott election'

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune gives an address during the formal swearing-in ceremony [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 19 December, 2019

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Abdelmajid Tebboune was inaugurated as Algeria's new president in a ceremony that pro-democracy protesters are rejecting as a charade.

Algeria's new President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced his intention to amend the country's constitution during his first term in office.

Tebboune, a former prime minister, was inaugurated as Algeria's new president in a ceremony that pro-democracy protesters are rejecting as a charade. 

"I am committed to amending the constitution so that it will be the cornerstone of building a new republic, no longer granting immunity to the corrupt," Algeria's president said during the inauguration, according to The New Arab's Arabic-language service. 

"I will amend [the constitution] during the first three months, or perhaps the first few weeks," he said.

President Tebboune added that the new constitution will fulfill the demands of the people and include decrees that "reduce the powers of the President, protect Algeria from falling into individual rule and create a balance between institutions, ensuring separation of powers".

In his statement, he said presidential terms will only be able to be renewed once under the new constitution. 

Tebboune won a widely boycotted election last week and 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.

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.

Comment: Algerians, now's the time to finish what you started 

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.

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