September 2, 2019 / 3:35 PM / 2 months ago

Algeria army chief calls for elections this year

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators carry banners and flags during a protest demanding the removal of the ruling elite and prosecution of former officials linked to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in Algiers, Algeria June 14, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s army chief on Monday called for elections later this year to choose a new president after mass protests forced the resignation in April of veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state media reported.

State television cited Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Saleh as saying the electoral commission “should issue a call on September 15”, a move that under Algerian law would come 90 days before the presidential election.

An election had been scheduled for July, but the authorities cancelled it, citing a lack of candidates without naming a new election date.

Protesters had also demanded the elections be postponed until the old ruling elite, including the interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, was forced from power.

The army, now the main player in Algerian politics, has repeatedly urged the opposition to cooperate in holding an election as soon as possible.

Algeria’s judiciary has meanwhile opened corruption investigations into numerous former senior officials and allies of Bouteflika.

Reporting By Lamine Chikhi, writing by Angus McDowall, Editing by William Maclean

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