Army Chief of Staff calls for President of Algeria to be deemed unfit to rule
Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, the Vice Minister of Defense of Algeria and the Chief of Staff of the People’s National Army, declared that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is unfit to rule based on his health. This declaration from a loyalist to Bouteflika – and a senior person inside the political and military elites of Algeria – appears to be a power concentration political maneuver. After all, the Chief of Staff and the leader of Algeria have close ties based on friendship and preserving the status quo.
If the Chief of Staff is sincere, then more important comments will need to follow in order to placate the majority of demonstrators, who are disillusioned with the political system. Hence, the following days will note if real change is in the offing, or if this is just based on preserving power concentration.
Reuters reports, “Algeria’s powerful army chief of staff called on Tuesday for a constitutional move that would see President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika declared unfit for office following weeks of mass protests, signaling an end to his 20-year rule.”
Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah seeks to trigger Article 102 of the Constitution of Algeria based on the president being deemed “incapacitated.” It is hoped that this will be part of a political solution to solve the crisis peacefully.
Voice of America stipulates, “Under article 102, two-thirds of parliament must vote to declare Bouteflika, whose term officially ends on April 21, “unable to govern,” giving temporary power to the parliament speaker as “acting president” for 45 days. The Constitutional Council would then rule on the president’s inability to govern, granting a further 45 days as acting head of state to the parliament speaker. He would then organize fresh presidential elections.”
Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah is focused on the Constitution in order to solve the political crisis. He uttered, “the only guarantee to preserve a stable political situation” was a constitutional way out.
The BBC reports, “Under the constitution, the head of the Senate, Abdelkhader Bansallah, would become the acting head of state until an election could be held.”
It remains to be seen if this will placate the masses that seek change in Algeria. Similarly, some people fear that the army may declare a “state of emergency” based on Article 105 of the Algerian Constitution. Hence, the following days may indicate if a change is in the offing based on a broad approach to the crisis, or if the armed forces will seek to preserve the power concentration of the elites.
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