Politics & Economics

Algerian military pushing for early election amid popular pressure

North Africa

After months of demonstrations, people in Algeria are eager to see the running of free and fair elections in the country.

Chief of staff of the Algerian Army, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah, gave a speech at a press conference this week to express his stance and that of the army’s on the political situation in Algeria amid continuing popular protests and following the postponement of presidential elections.

Gaed Salah has criticised “some political and ideological figures” who he deems to be in favour of a “constitutional vacuum” and are against the running of elections. He has branded those who oppose the army as “enemies of Algeria”, in an attempt to consolidate the military’s role in the development of Algerian politics in the post-Bouteflika era. 

Pressure is mounting on the political elite in Algeria to push for the organisation of elections in the country. Protesters have recently been calling for the resignation of the interim President, Abdelkada Bensalah, who is known to have been a close ally of Bouteflika. Bensalah has been appointed as acting President for a period of 90 days. He assumed the position on 9 April, and so his tenure is soon coming to an end. However, the lack of candidates for the Presidency led to the postponement of elections that were set to take place on 4 July, and so the future of the Presidency position is unclear once Bensalah’s term comes to an end.

Amid the developments related to the elections, Gaed Salah referred to a continued crackdown on corruption in the country, especially in cases where there has been alleged corruption related to the former Bouteflika regime. Of note, Mourad Eulmi, the head of SOVAC, which is the representative company of Volkswagen in Algeria, was detained this week on the back of corruption charges. Other former high-level political figures who belonged in Bouteflika’s cadre have also been detained for misuse of power and self-enrichment through appropriation of public funds.