ALGIERS – 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 Gaed Salah, addressing army officers in a speech broadcast on state TV, called for a unified stand to defuse tensions in the sprawling North African state, a major oil and gas exporter.
It is rare for the army to directly intervene during crises in Algeria but the hundreds of thousands of people who have been pushing the ailing Bouteflika to step down, as important allies deserted him, prompted the military to try and restore order.
Salah said the solution would be based on Article 102 of the constitution and achieve a consensus of “all visions and parties”. That article applies under certain conditions, such as deteriorating health. Bouteflika, 82, has rarely surfaced in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.