Algeria's army chief says elections best way out of crisis

Protesters say transitional bodies need to be set up before free and fair elections can take place.

    Announcement by military chief comes days after protesters took to the streets to denounce the army's proposed plan [File: EPA]
    Announcement by military chief comes days after protesters took to the streets to denounce the army's proposed plan [File: EPA]

    Algeria's army chief of staff has warned against calls by protesters to postpone the country's presidential election, saying it were the best way out of the current political crisis.

    The announcement by Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah on Monday came just days after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across the country to denounce the army's proposed plan.

    "Holding a presidential election could help [Algeria] avoid falling into the trap of a constitutional void, with its accompanying dangers and unwelcome consequences," Gaid Salah said in a speech.

    Emphasising "the need to accelerate the establishment of an independent body to organize and oversee the election," he said holding the poll "would stop those who are trying to prolong the crisis".

    After nearly two decades in power, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika gave up power on April 2, amid a wave of massive protests across the country which were sparked by his decision in February to run for a fifth consecutive term in office.

    Weekly protests have since continued in the North African country, a major oil and gas producer, calling for the departure of Bouteflika loyalists and a complete overhaul of the political system.

    The protesters want a transitional authority to be set up to review the constitution and allow for free and fair elections to take place. 

    In his speech on Monday, Gaid Salah seemed to reject those demands, describing them as "unobjective and unreasonable", adding that they sought to "deprive state institutions of their cadres and denigrate them".

    A presidential election has been scheduled for July 4.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies