Algeria army chief calls on Bouteflika to quit | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 27, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:43 AM, March 27, 2019

Algeria army chief calls on Bouteflika to quit

Algeria's army chief yesterday called for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to govern, following weeks of mass protests demanding the ailing leader step down after two decades in power.

The move would potentially clear the way for elections to be organised in the coming months unless the president recovers.

"It is necessary, even imperative, to adopt a solution to get out of the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people, and which guarantees the respect of the provisions of the constitution and safeguards the sovereignty of the state," General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a televised speech.

The armed forces chief of staff, considered loyal to Bouteflika, added that the solution "is in article 102" of the constitution, under which parliament could declare the president unable to perform his duties due to serious illness.

The 82-year-old leader uses a wheelchair and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. He has often flown to France or Switzerland for treatment.

Bouteflika said last month he would run for a fifth term in office, despite concerns about his ability to rule, triggering a wave of protests that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets.

On March 11, after returning home from medical checkups in Switzerland, he made the surprise announcement that he was pulling out of the race.

But he also postponed the elections, angering protesters who saw the move as a ploy to stay in power.

Although credited with helping foster peace after Algeria's decade-long civil war, Bouteflika has faced criticism for alleged authoritarianism.

His current mandate expires on April 28.

The army chief's call was welcomed with car horns honking in Algiers, where hundreds of students who have been at the forefront of the protests were back on the streets on Tuesday.

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