Algerians are waiting for a decision by the constitutional council on whether ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is fit for office, after the top army officer called for his removal in a bid to defuse mass protests.
Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah, addressing officers in a speech broadcast on Tuesday, said the solution to the recent political crisis would be the exit of the president on health grounds.
Protests erupted some weeks ago after the eighty-two-year old ailing leader announced his decision to seek a fifth term. Although Bouteflika later reversed his decision, he postponed elections set for April and said he would remain in power until a new constitution was adopted, a move that effectively extended his current term.
In a televised address on Tuesday, The army chief said he considers the people’s demands to be valid and that the presidency should be vacated. The next formal step is for the constitutional council to formally rule on Bouteflika’s fitness for office. The body has not said when it might reach its decision. Any ruling that he is not fit to rule would have to be ratified by members of parliament’s lower and upper house by a two-thirds majority.