Departure of Algeria intelligence chief marks \'end of an era\'

Friday 11/09/2015

Power struggle between president and DRS continues

ALGIERS - The replacement of Algeria's military intelligence chief, seen as a behind-the-scenes political kingmaker for a quarter of a century, marks the "end of an era," Algerian newspapers said on Monday.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika replaced General Mohamed Mediene, better known as General Toufik, on Sunday in a move that sealed his full control over the shadowy security services.
"General Toufik, the end of a legend," read the front-page headline in Arabic language daily Al-Khabar.
The 76-year-old, who had seen five presidents and a dozen prime ministers come and go during his tenure as head of the DRS intelligence service, was replaced by his deputy, General Athmane "Bachir" Tartag.
"The myth has crumbled. Without much noise nor protest, it seems," said an editorial in French-language newspaper Liberte.
The general "has gone, after watching on, either powerless or consenting, as the security body he created 25 years ago and dominated ever since, was dismembered."
Toufik was among top officers behind a crackdown against the radical Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) after it won elections in the early 1990s.
Since the end of July, Bouteflika and his circle have changed several security chiefs, in what analysts say has been a behind-the-scenes power struggle between the president and the DRS.
French language daily El-Watan said Toufik's departure was not unexpected.
"For the past two years, those in power have strived to prepare public opinion to expect... the departure of the DRS chief," it said.
"But while it may signal the victory of one regime clan over another, the people will not see it or experience it as a victory.
"Transferring presidential advisers between institutions does not constitute a clean-up nor indicate revitalised state structures."
La Tribune newspaper disagreed, describing it as "the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for Algeria's security services."

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