Algeria's President dismisses police chief amid drug smuggling scandal

The head of Algeria's police force, General Abdelghani Hamel, has been relieved of his job on Tuesday by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

No reason was given for the sacking of General Abdelghani Hamel, in charge of the national security forces since 2010. He was seen as possible successor as head of state.

Speculations in local media believes his dismissal is connected
to the seizure of 701 kg of cocaine at the western port of Oran at the end of May. His personal chauffeur is rumoured to have been invovled though the police have denies the report.

Hamel has told reporters before the announcement of his sacking that there had been “excesses and violations during the preliminary inquiry” into the cocaine seizure.

“If you want to fight corruption you need to be clean,” he said.

The drug smuggling case has seen a number of other Algerian officials caught up in the scandal and triggered renewed speculation about power struggles within Algeria’s opaque political, military and business elite ahead of a presidential election in 2019.

The official news agency APS announcement also named Colonel Mustapha Lahbiri, head of the civil protection since 2001 as Hamel's replacement.

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