REG 191219 Brief Algeria-1576754044460
Algerian President-elect Abdelmadjid Tebboune (L) greets interim president Abdelkader Bensalah (R) during the formal swearing-in ceremony in the capital Algiers on December 19, 2019. The 74-year-old Tebboune, a former prime minister seen as close to the country's powerful military chief, reportedly garnered 58.13 percent of votes in the first ballot of a highly contested presidential election, according to the announced final results. Image Credit: AFP

Algiers: After eight months without a leader, Algeria inaugurated its new president Thursday during a pomp-filled ceremony that pro-democracy protesters rejected as a charade.

Members of the African nation’s governing elite hope Abdelkader Tebboune’s inauguration allows gas-rich Algeria to turn the page on 10 months of protests that put their legitimacy to lead in doubt and stalled the economy.

Uniformed officers from the four branches of Algeria’s powerful military saluted Tebboune as he arrived at the presidential palace in Algiers for his inauguration.

After a reading from the Quran, the head of the Constitutional Council pronounced Tebboune as the winner of the presidential election held last week.

The new president was decorated with the national merit award as a military band played the Algerian anthem.

Protest movement praised

In his first presidential speech, Tebboune praised the protest movement that successfully pushed Algeria’s president of two decades, Abdelaziz Bouteflik, from office in April. He thanked voters who he said put the country back on the ``constitutional track.’’

Tebboune, 74, a former prime minister considered to be close to Algeria’s powerful army chief, was elected with 58% of the vote in an election boycotted by members of the country’s peaceful protest movement.

They rejected the election because it was organized by the political elite.

Tebboune has promised to reach out to the Hirak movement protesters and to fight corruption, a major problem in Africa’s biggest country. As president, Tebboune inherits responsibility for addressing a large youth population disillusioned by unemployment and out-of-touch rulers.

Algeria remains a key ally of Western powers fighting terrorism in the region, and foreign dignitaries are expected to attend Thursday’s inauguration in the presidential palace of the capital, Algiers.