By Hana Saada

Algeria mourns its man of honour Gaid Salah, Army Chief of Stuff

December 28, 2019 - 8:45

ALGERIA - Algeria mourns one of its defenders and great men. Algeria's powerful Army Chief Major- General Ahmed Gaid Salah, one of the last veterans of the 1954-62 independence war against the French colonization, passed away, on Monday, of a heart attack, announced the Algerian presidency of the Republic in a statement.

"The deputy defense minister and chief of staff of the army died Monday morning of a heart attack," the presidency said in the statement read out on state news channel Algeria 3.

“The general died at home of a heart attack at about 6:00 am (0500 GMT) before his body was transferred to a military hospital,” the statement added.

The deceased played a commendable role in preserving Africa’s largest country’s stability and integrity. Following the eruption of the mass protests, almost one year ago, demanding the ruling elite and the old guard to quit, Gaid Salah's delivered at a televised speech, endorsing the protesters' claims, while insisting on the army support for the protests, “marked, according to him, by the deeds of noble aims and pure intentions, through which the Algerian people has clearly expressed its values and principles of sincere and dedicated work to Allah and the motherland”.

The deceased pushed the long-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April after 20 years in power. He, also, prevented foreign hands from manipulating protesters.

The military chief, then, championed an unprecedented anti-graft investigation, targeting the ousted President Bouteflika’s inner circle. This massive corruption drive included the arrest and conviction of Bouteflika’s brother Said, once-feared intelligence chiefs as well as two premiers, ministers and a bunch of tycoons and oligarchs.

The lifelong military man had made his last public appearance Thursday at the swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune, where he was awarded the rank of "Sadr" in Algeria's National Order of Merit.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, for his part, announced that the Commander of land forces, General Said Chengriha would take over as acting chief of staff of the  Algerian armed forces.

In his message of condolences following the death of Army Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, President Tebboune paid a heartfelt tribute to the courageous military leader. 

"There are, among the believers, men who have been sincere in their commitment to Allah. Some of them have reached their end, and others are still waiting, and they have not changed in any way," wrote the President of the Republic at the beginning of his message of condolence, APS reported.

"It is with deep sadness and sorrow that I learned of the death of the valiant Mujahid and leader Ahmed Gaïd Salah, he said. Algeria mourns one of its great men and devoted sons," said Tebboune, adding that the deceased, "one of the State's pillars," served Algeria with a high sense of sacrifice and dedication by being a model for his generation, among military and civilians, and an example for future generations."

"He was, peace be upon him, a courageous military leader, a man with a pure and generous heart, a patriot dedicated to the service of his party, clear-sighted in his management and of unequalled availability in his defence, in all circumstances," the head of the state stressed.

A man of honour who keeps his word, late Ahmed Gaïd Salah was imbued with nationalist convictions and immutable republican positions, said the President of the Republic.

He was a religious and pious man, who never varied (neither in his faith nor in his commitment)," he added. 

"In the face of this tragedy, words cannot express our feelings and we can only surrender to God's will. Farewell, dear brother and a great leader. Farewell Lion. You have been for Algeria a faithful protector and for the state a sincere adviser for years. Your long journey and your proven perspicacity will remain a reference for us and our successors. Congratulations for your place in Paradise among the martyrs and those whom Allah has graced with His blessings and surrounded by His eternal grace," the Head of the State wrote in his message of condolence.

In this painful circumstance, I can only resign myself to the will of Allah," he added to the family of the deceased.

"To all members of the family of the deceased, to his companions in the People's National Army (ANP), worthy heir of the National Liberation Army and to the entire Algerian people, I address my sincere condolences, Praying to the Almighty to fill us with the courage and patience and to reward the deceased for his actions in the service of his country," concluded President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Following the death of mujaheed, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, President of the Republic, Minister of National Defence, Supreme Chief of Armed Forces Abdelmadjid Tebboune has decreed a three day national mourning and seven days for the Army.

Born on January 13, 1940 in the eastern Batna province, Gaid Salah joined the Algeria's National Liberation Army at the age of 17 to defend his country against the French colonization. Following the independence of Algeria in 1962 after 132 years of colonization, he joined the army, attended a Soviet military academy and pursued his career in the Algerian army, moving up to the rank of major general in 1993. He commanded several regions before becoming chief of Algeria's land forces. After the 2004 presidential election, Gaid Saleh was appointed as Algerian People’s National Army's chief of staff.

"To God we belong and to Him we shall return".

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