Algerian army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah reaffirmed Wednesday support for the efforts of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, whose term ended on July 9 but remains head of state in the absence of elections.
Salah said Bensalah's call for a "neutral" national dialogue was a “reasonable and sensible approach” to “get the country out of the crisis.”
“As much as we encourage and support its contents, we consider his approach as an important step on the path toward the appropriate resolution of this crisis,” he added.
Salah reiterated the army’s desire for presidential elections to be held “as soon as possible.”
In a speech on July 3, Bensalah called for a “dialogue led by independent national figures,” in which no authority or army is involved, in order to be able to organize presidential elections as soon as possible.
However, Bensalah’s proposal didn’t calm protesters, who once again took to the streets of the North African country's major cities for the 20th consecutive Friday to demand that regime insiders leave office as a precursor to independent institutions being set up.
The army chief has emerged as the key powerbroker since Bouteflika’s departure and warned against “rejecting the constitutional process," calling for holding presidential elections.
“These presidential elections are considered a real key to building a strong state despite obstacles imposed by those rejecting the constitutional path,” he said.
He also referred to the demonstrators, who are in temporary custody pending trial, and refused to consider them “political detainees and prisoners of conscience.”
He warned against painting Algeria as no longer being a “civilian state,” in reference to one of the protest slogans.
Salah criticized those brandishing the Berber flag during protests, saying they “dared to misuse and abuse the national flag.”
He implicitly slammed the icon of the war of independence, Lakhdar Bouregaa, by saying that the real fighter is that who helps in constructing the nation and being of goodwill or else he is considered among those corrupts.
It is noteworthy that Bouregaa said the army under Salah is like a “militia,” and he was later accused of “contributing to weakening the army’s morale.”
As for the anti-corruption campaign launched by the judiciary under the army’s guidance and protection, Salah explained that he intends to “completely eliminate the last bastion of colonialism in our country,” explaining that corruption is another form of colonialism.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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