Algeria's interim president proposes talks without 'state involvement'

Algeria's interim president proposes talks without 'state involvement'
2 min read
04 July, 2019
Algeria's interim president Abdelkader Bensalah has promised Algerians will head to polls after postponing the 4 July elections.
Protests have rocked Algeria [Getty]

Algeria's interim President Abdelkader Bensalah pledged in a speech on Wednesday to hold talks to pave the way for elections without involvement of the state or the military. 

"This dialogue... will be led freely and with total transparency by national independent figures who have credibility and who are not linked to any party," he said.

"The state in all its components, including the military, will not be party to this dialogue and will remain neutral throughout" the talks, he added.

"It has become necessary today to put aside... unrealistic requirements that are likely to prolong the current situation and drag our country into a... constitutional vacuum", he said.

A continuation on this path risked generating uncertainty and instability, he said. 

His speech comes just days before his interim mandate expires on July 9.

The country has been hit by months of protests that initially culminated in ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepping down in early April, after tens of thousands opposed his bid for a fifth mandate.

Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah has emerged as a key powerbroker since Bouteflika was forced out.

Gaid Salah had been an ally of the ailing president, but as pressure from demonstrators mounted he ultimately called for the long-time leader's impeachment.

Politicians and businessmen close to Bouteflika - including two former prime ministers - have been arrested in a corruption probe.

But protesters have called for Gaid Salah himself to step down, along with other top figures they argue are tainted by their allegiance to Bouteflika during his 20-year rule.

They also want independent institutions to be established ahead of any election. 

An already delayed presidential election was early last month again postponed from a planned date of July 4, after only two potential runners - both little known - submitted their candidacies.  

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