Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid on Saturday fired his chief lieutenant, Mohammed Sherif Mussaadia, evidently blaming him for riots that raged in the North African nation earlier this month, the official Algerian Press Service and diplomatic sources said.
Mussaadia was called to “other functions,” according to the dispatch from the state-run news agency, monitored in Abu Dhabi. It said Abdelhamid Mehri, recently named Algeria’s ambassador to Morocco, would replace Mussaadia.
Diplomatic sources said Bendjedid apparently decided to make a scapegoat of Mussaadia, who as No. 2 man in the ruling National Liberation Front Party was one of the most powerful and popular politicians in Algeria.
At least 200 people died in the week of rioting in Algerian cities this month, diplomatic sources say. Many of those demonstrating against Bendjedid’s policies are Muslim fundamentalists.