Algeria army chief demands Bouteflika be declared unfit to rule

Africa Middle East Algeria Algeria’s army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah has called for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule the country, following weeks of protests against the ailing head of state’s decision to seek a fifth term.

Although Bouteflika later reversed his decision, the 82-year-old 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, Salah, the army chief, said he considered the people’s demands to be valid and that the presidency should be vacated.

“We must adopt a solution that helps us out of this crisis … a solution that respects and adheres to the constitution so that it’s a suitable one for all sides,” Salah said.

“This solution is stipulated in Article 102 of the Constitution,” he said.

Under Article 102, the Constitutional Council could determine that the president is too ill to fully exercise his functions, and ask the parliament to declare him unfit. Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.

If a two-thirds majority of the parliament’s lower and upper house ratify the council’s decision, the chairman of the upper house,

Abdelkader Bensalah, would serve as caretaker president for at least 45 days.

El Bilad television said the Constitutional Council had convened a special session after Salah’s move.

The army chief is among the top power brokers in Algeria and his announcement could pave the way for Bouteflika’s removal.

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