- More by Michael Al-Said
Algeria will hold a presidential election on July 4, the interim presidency said
after weeks of mass protests led to the resignation of long-serving leader
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No further details were given. The interim president Abdelkader Bensalah had
said he would organise free elections within 90 days.
Earlier Algeria’s army chief said he expected to see members of the ruling elite
in the major oil and natural gas-producing country, prosecuted for corruption
and that he would support a transition towards elections.
Lieutenant General Gaid Salah’s comments were the strongest hint yet that the
military would play its traditional role of a kingmaker after the ailing 82-year-
old Bouteflika bowed to popular pressure and quit on April 2 after 20 years in
“The army will meet the people’s demands,” said Salah, addressing officers and
soldiers at a military base. “The judiciary has recovered its prerogative and can
He referred to the ruling caste as “the gang”, a term people have used in the
protests to describe Bouteflika’s inner circle, which encompassed retired
intelligence officials, oligarchs, members of the ruling National Liberation
Front (FLN) and some veterans of the 1954-62 war of independence against
The army chief of staff urged the judiciary to reopen a corruption case against
oil and gas giant Sonatrach, an object of resentment for many Algerians who
accuse their leaders of stealing the North African nation’s wealth.
More than one in four people under the age of 30, some 70 percent of the
population, are unemployed – one of the central grievances of protesters who
want the economy liberalised and diversified to reduce its reliance on energy.
In 2012, a series of scandals shook Sonatrach, which was tightly controlled by
Bouteflika loyalists. Its CEO and other executives were imprisoned for graft
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