Algeria: Raft of Dismissals Continues, Chiefs of Air & Ground Forces Fired
President Abdelazize Bouteflika who also doubles as the country’s Defense Minister has fired commanders of air and grounds forces amid an ongoing overhaul of the army and security top apparatus.
Major-General Hassan Tafer, commander of Algeria’s ground forces was sacked on Monday and replaced by Major-General Said Shankarikha.
Air Force Commander Major-General Abdul Qader al-Wannas was also dismissed and replaced by Major-General Baumiza Mohamed.
A third high-ranking army official, Mohamed Zanakhri, who was Secretary-General of the Defense Ministry, has been replaced by General Hamid Ghraise.
The reshuffle at top of army and security forces has been ongoing since June. President Bouteflika had then sacked Abdelghani Hamel, the powerful director general of Algeria’s police force. In July he axed the head of Algeria’s Defense Ministry-affiliated gendarmerie.
In a separate development, former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune has been banned from leaving the country after Algiers Court of Justice had earlier ordered authorities to seize Tebboune’s passport.
The former Premier was sacked in 2017 after three months in office. He was reportedly fired for opposing Bouteflika’s vision.
Unidentified sources said he was fired on a demand from Algerian businessmen close to the President.
Several other dismissed generals and senior officials are barred from leaving the country and at the orders of the public prosecutor at the military court in Blida, searches were carried out at the homes of five generals of the Algerian army.
According to Algerian media, these searches are conducted at the request of the presidency on the suspect enrichment of certain army officers.
The drama have reportedly started, according to El Watan, after the former boss of the police, Abdelghani Hamel, has laid very serious charges against Vice Minister of Defense and chief of staff of the Algerian People’s National Army (ANP), General Ahmed Gaid Salah and against the chief of the National Gendarmerie.
Consequence of these accusations: Ahmed Gaid Salah himself initiated a clean-up operation, pushing several senior army officers to the exit, in what is viewed by some analysts as a coup d’état.
These numerous changes at the head of the army isolate more and more Ahmed Gaid Salah, who was tipped to replace the current president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, notes El Watan.
According to the media, this raft of sackings and investigations put the head of the army at the forefront of the political scene, and probably herald the end of his reign.