Veteran to lead Algeria

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The Independent Online
ALGIERS (AP) - The military-dominated ruling council yesterday picked Ali Kafi, a veteran of Algeria's war of independence, to replace Mohamed Boudiaf, the head of state who was assassinated on Monday.

Mr Kafi immediately named a six-man panel to investigate the murder of Boudiaf, who was shot dead by a man dressed as a riot policeman as he gave a speech. The panel, composed of lawyers, soldiers and human-rights activists, was charged with finding 'the identities of the authors and instigators of this act', the government announced. Preliminary findings are due 20 days after the panel meets for the first time tomorrow and will be made public, a government communique said.

Mr Kafi's appointment ended four days of deliberation to fill the presidency of the five-man Higher State Council left vacant by Boudiaf's assassination. Though the appointment conserves the committee's civilian veneer, real power is likely to continue to be held in the hands of General Khaled Nezzar, the Defence Minister.

Mr Kafi, 64, is secretary-general of the National Organisation of Moudjahidine, veterans of the eight-year war that won independence from France in 1962. The group is widely viewed as corrupt.

The appointment seemed unlikely to appease either reformers or the youthful, unemployed supporters of the Islamic Salvation Front, most of whom were born after the war of independence.

'Kafi is far from the calibre of Boudiaf,' said Hocine Ait Ahmed, head of the opposition Front for Socialist Forces. 'He's far from having the same credibility . . . He is not a symbol of democracy.' Mr Ait Ahmed and Boudiaf were among the six original leaders of Algeria's revolution.