President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sacked Algeria’s police chief on Wednesday, the interior ministry said, in a move that comes weeks ahead of April elections.
The ministry, in a statement carried by the APS news agency, said Bouteflika had appointed Abdelkader Kara Bouhadba as director general of the national security forces (DGSN) to replace Mustapha Lahbiri.
It said that Lahbiri would take up new duties without providing further details.
“Sacking Lahbiri is a strategy that the regime has been using in recent months and years where high ranking army and police officials are being sacked” Algeria expert Yasmina Allouche told The New Arab.
“Thsi is a tactic to ensure those in top positions are completely loyal to Bouteflika and will support 5th mandate”, she added.
Lahbiri was appointed head of the DGSN in June after Bouteflika sacked his predecessor Abdelghani Hamel who had been seen as a likely successor to the head of state.
The 81-year-old president, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, on Sunday announced in a statement published by APS he will run for another term on April 18.
His decision stirred mixed reactions on Monday in the Algerian press, with one newspaper describing it as risky as “Russian roulette” and another welcoming his pledge of reforms.