ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) - The president of Algeria has fired without explanation a general who headed the country’s national security division.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika fired Gen. Abdelghani Hamel, a potential candidate in next year’s presidential race, on Tuesday. He was replaced by Mustapha El Habiri, previous head of the civil protection department.

Some observers believe Hamel’s ouster may be linked to statements he made regarding a vast cocaine trafficking scandal in which 701 kilograms (1,545 pounds) of cocaine were seized in late May in the port of Oran, west of Algiers. Up to 10 judges were among those arrested.

Hamel had referred, without elaborating, to “overreach in the preliminary investigation” of the case and said “one must be clean himself” to fight corruption.

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