- There has been mass protests calling for the president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to step down
- The 82-year-old president suffered a stroke in 2013 and afterwards, has been rarely seen in public
- Following the protest, Bouteflika had renounced his fifth term bid, but announced an unspecified transitional period and postponement of the presidential polls
The Algerian military on Tuesday, March 26, called for the enforcement of a constitutional article that allows the removal of the president on health grounds, amid mass protests calling for long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.
“A solution should be adopted that ensures getting out of the crisis and responding to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people,” the Military Chief of Staff, Gaid Saleh, said in a speech.
“The solution is stipulated in the constitution, in Article 102,’’ he added.
Tuesday’s statement is the army’s first clear position on the anti-Bouteflika demonstrations, which have rocked the North African country since February.
Bouteflika, 82, suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public. Earlier this month, he returned to Algeria after a two-week medical trip in Switzerland.
Article 102 stipulates that the country’s Constitutional Council shall meet and then propose to the parliament to declare the inability of the president to exercise his functions due to verified, serious and enduring illness.
The parliament speaker will then be appointed as interim president for 45 days.
Hundreds of thousands of Algerians have been protesting for nearly five weeks, demanding that Bouteflika step down after 20 years in power.
Earlier this month, Bouteflika bowed to the nationwide protests and renounced his bid for a fifth term in office. But, he announced an unspecified transitional period and postponement of the presidential polls, originally scheduled for April 18.
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The president’s plan was seen as a trick to prolong his current fourth term, which ends on April 18, and protests have continued since then.
Bouteflika is widely credited with helping to end a crippling civil war, pitting the army against Islamist insurgents, that killed some 200,000 people in the 1990s.
However, the 82-year-old has been largely out of sight since he suffered a stroke that confined him to a wheelchair and severely impaired his speech.
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