Army Chief of Staff General Ahmed Gaid Salah (Source: reuters)
Army Chief of Staff General Ahmed Gaid Salah (Source: reuters)

Algeria: Army chief proposes independent body to oversee polls

ANI | Updated: May 21, 2019 06:35 IST

Algiers [Algeria], May 21 (ANI): Underlining that the ensuing presidential election will prevent Algeria from "falling into the trap of a constitutional void", the Army chief Lieutenant General Gaid Salah on Monday proposed the formation of an "independent body" to organise and oversee the election which is scheduled for July 4.
"Holding a presidential election could help [Algeria] avoid falling into the trap of a constitutional void, with its accompanying dangers and unwelcome consequences," Al Jazeera quoted General Salah as saying.
"There is a need to accelerate the establishment of an independent body to organise and oversee the election. This would stop those who are trying to prolong the crisis, " he added.
Salah's statement comes days after thousands of protestors hit the streets in cities across the country to denounce the army's proposed plan.
They are demanding a postponement of the elections and a transitional authority to be set up to review the constitution and allow for free and fair elections to take place.
However, Salah has rejected their demands, calling them "unobjective and unreasonable".
The demonstrations, which are being held for the 12th week in a row, comes after 82-year-old Bouteflika stepped down last month following popular uprisings against the ailing leader.
Protesters, who are fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan month, are also demanding the immediate departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Badawi, who were all part of Bouteflika's regime.
On April 2, Bouteflika resigned as Algeria's president weeks before his mandate was to end on April 28, after remaining in power for about 20 years.
This came after a press statement issued by Bouteflika's office had said that the president will take steps to ensure "state institutions continue to function during the transition period", adding, his "resignation would occur before April 28, 2019".
The statement further noted that Bouteflika would "take important measures to ensure the continuity of the functioning of the state institutions during the period of transition."
Algeria has been witnessing protests since February against Bouteflika following his announcement that he was keen on contesting for a fifth term. However, he later gave in to the protesters' demands and abandoned his re-election bid, while delaying the presidential polls.
Protests, however, did not subside over Bouteflika's continued hold of power, after which he tendered his resignation.
Bouteflika rarely made public appearances since suffering a stroke in 2013. (ANI)