Algeria constitutional council denies it has met on Bouteflika’s fate
Algeria’s constitutional council has dismissed reports that it has met to decide whether President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is fit for office, state radio said on Thursday, after the army called for his removal and allies deserted the ailing leader.
The report came two days after the Algerian army’s powerful chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah, called on the constitutional council to rule whether the ailing 82-year-old president is fit for office.
Such a ruling would have to be ratified by a two-thirds majority in the two houses of parliament.
The remarks by Lieutenant General Salah were the first instance of direct intervention in the crisis by the military. The Algerian army had previously praised the protesters and said at the same time that it would not tolerate chaos, but it had also refrained from directly calling for Bouteflika’s removal from office.
Mass protests began across the country after Bouteflika announced his bid for a fifth term in office earlier this month. Under increasing pressure, the Algerian president ultimately dropped his bid for another term, but protests have continued, demanding that he step down.
Earlier in the day, Hundreds of protesters again took to the streets of central Algiers to demand Bouteflika’s resignation and also to criticize the country’s entire political system.
“Thieves, you have destroyed the country,” they chanted.
Under Article 102 of the constitution, the chairman of parliament’s upper house, Abdelkader Bensalah, would serve as caretaker president for at least 45 days after Bouteflika’s departure.
Even if Bouteflika quits, there is no clear long-term successor.
Since suffering a stroke in 2013, the 82-year-old Bouteflika has been using a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public.