Algerian army sacks Sonatrach chief

The latest dismissal of a top energy official leaves Algeria's energy sector in the balance.

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The head of Algeria’s state oil company Sonatrach has been sacked, leaving the future of the country’s energy industry in the balance.

The former chief executive, Abdelmoumene Ould Kaddour, was replaced as head of Sonatrach’s head of production and exploration by Rachid Hachichi, state TV reported on Tuesday.

The appointment was made by the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah and will be the energy giant’s 6th CEO in as many years.

Reuters reports that Kaddour’s close allegiance to former president Abdulaziz Bouteflika, who stepped down on 2 April, influenced the military’s decision for Kaddour’s removal.

Kaddour’s ousting is the latest in a series of dismissals of top government officials who were seen as part of Bouteflika’s inner circle.

The announcement further erodes the already fragile political stability in the country which is a key gas supplier for southern Europe.

It has also added to fears that deals with international companies could be compromised, adding uncertainty to an economy already suffering from flagging oil revenues, which provide 60% of Algeria’s state budget.

Kaddour, who came to the helm of Sonatrach in March 2017, launched a slew of reforms such as overhauling the country’s hydrocarbon law in an effort to improve investor confidence.

His departure further dampens hopes for much-needed reforms in the country’s energy sector, which have been stalled by the political upheaval and the interim government’s lack of legitimacy.

Bouteflika resigned as a result of mass protests that started in February shortly after the 82 year-old former president announced he was running for a fifth presidential term after 10 years in power.

Under the constitution the country has passed into the hands of a caretaker government until elections take place in three months.

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