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People gather outside the "Palais du Peuple" (Palace of the People) during the funeral of Algeria's late military chief Lieutenant general Ahmed Gaid Salah, in Algiers on December 25, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Algiers: Algeria is holding an elaborate military funeral for the general who was the de facto ruler of the gas-rich country amid political turmoil throughout this year.

Crowds packed the route of the funeral cortege Wednesday to pay homage to Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, who was chief of the armed forces.

Some people ran alongside the military vehicles and some waved Algerian flags.

Gaid Salah died unexpectedly Monday after a heart attack, plunging Algeria into new uncertainty after 10 months of pro-democracy protests.

Wednesday’s events include a ceremony at the Palace of the People followed by a burial at the El Alia cemetery alongside others who fought in Algeria’s war for independence from France.

Gaid Salah helped push out longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April amid unprecedented, peaceful protests against corruption and Algeria’s secretive power structure.

The military chief then pushed for elections earlier this month, won by a former prime minister considered close to Gaid Salah, Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Algeria’s military plays a central role in decision-making in this country, a key ally to Western powers in fighting Islamic extremism.

Protesters later turned against Gaid Salah, demanding his departure and a wholesale makeover of Algeria’s political structure. Students held their regular weekly protests Tuesday after his death.