Abdelmajid Tebún, the technocrat who climbed all the rungs of power in Algeria | International

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At the age of 74, Abdelmajid Tebún, has ascended the last rung of the pyramid of Algerian power, the only one that was missing: the head of state. His has been a slow climb but hardly taking any step back, as befits a faithful man of apparatus. In fact, his only setback is the one that has made his accession to the presidency possible, and perhaps has prevented him from now languishing behind bars. That is the sad present of both his predecessor as prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, and his successor, Ahmed Ouyahia, both sentenced to long prison terms for corruption this week.

In 2017, almost three months after his appointment as prime minister by President Abdelaziz Buteflika, he was abruptly dismissed, becoming the most ephemeral head of government in the country's history. The reason for his defenestration was his desire to put a stop to the affairs of the powerful businessmen who had grown up in the shadow of the Buteflika clan. What better cover letter for a establishment Who seeks to stage a more cosmetic than real break with the old regime?

“Tebún was always one of the favorites in this election. Although he is a gray politician, without charisma, there was a project of Tebún presidency since his conflict with the magnates that led to his departure from the government, ”says political analyst Otman Lahiani. In fact, thanks to his close relationship with Gaid Salah – the country's strong man – at the beginning of the campaign he was considered the bet of the Algerian regime. However, his star seemed to be turned off by the scandal that surrounded his son Khaled, accused of influence peddling for having favored an obscure businessman who trafficked drugs. Imprisoned since June 2018, his trial coincided with the start of the campaign.

After graduating from a university dedicated to training State cadres, made in the image and likeness of the French ENA, Tebún entered the Administration of the Saoura province as a fellow. Five years later, in 1974, he was already deputy governor of the province of Djelfa. Nine years later, he had risen to a new level to become governor of Adrar. In June 1991, he was appointed secretary general of the local power. Finally, he received his first ministerial portfolio, that of Communication, in 1999 from Buteflika, who would entrust him with various ministries in the following two decades.

"I voted for him because he is an experienced technocrat, I don't want a partisan politician," explained Jefal, a retiree, after casting his vote in Algiers, ignoring that Tebún was a cadre of the National Liberation Front (FLN), the old single party. Originally from Naama province, a conservative region in the northeast of the country, he often trumps his speeches of religious references. Given the difficulty of his new assignment, divine help will not hurt.

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