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Vol 56 No 19

Published 25th September 2015


Algeria

Trembles at the top

The removal of the security chief is a major event which could signal the beginning of the end of the Bouteflika years

After holding the reins of power since he took over the Département du renseignement et de la sécurité in November 1990, the military intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Mohammed Lamine 'Tewfik' Medienne, was relieved of his duties on 13 September. Depending on your interpretation, it was either a routine retirement after a successor was named or an ignominious sacking. His departure from the DRS proved insufficient to keep the shadowy Tewfik out of the limelight as compromising material immediately began to bubble up in cyberspace. The end of his tenure as the all-powerful intelligence boss began to look more like a summary dismissal by a rival faction that was now stronger. It followed the very public fall of several of his close allies. The DRS boss was famed for his anonymity: for much of his career, the world has had to be content with only one indistinct photo taken two decades ago. His renown was also due to his power, reflected in the nickname 'Rab Dzaïer ' (Lord of Algiers). Yet pictures of him and tittle-tattle filled the internet almost as soon as he was replaced.

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