Politics & Economics

Algeria Prime Minister to resign in major win for protesters

North Africa

Senior officials said the resignation of Prime Minster Noureddine Bedoui will 'facilitate' the holding of elections.

Algeria’s Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui will soon step down – a development that would mark a major win for protestors, it was announced on Tuesday.

Bedoui’s departure will usher in elections for later this year, which the military sees holding elections as the only way forward after months of protest.

Senior officials told Reuters that Bedoui’s resignation will “facilitate” the holding of elections.

Algeria’s powerful army chief called last week for a vote to elect a successor to ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika by the end of the year, with a date to be announced in mid-September.

Algeria’s protests to demand an overhaul of the ruling regime have continued for six months and show no sign of waning despite the April resignation of veteran leader Bouteflika under pressure from the street.

Days after Bouteflika stepped down, upper house speaker Abdelkader Bensalah was appointed interim president. One of his first actions was to call presidential elections for July 4 – but the date was later scrapped.

The grassroots protest movement has been adamant that no election should take place as long as Bouteflika-era officials, including Bensalah and army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, remain in office.

Army Chief Gaid Salah said the electoral college should be summoned “on September 15” so that the long-delayed elections “can be held within the deadline stipulated by the law”.

His comments appeared to be addressed at Bensalah who, in line with Algeria’s electoral law, must issue a decree to gather the electoral college 90 days before polls can take place.

Tens of thousands of protesters piled once again onto the streets of the Algerian capital and other cities on Friday with many rejecting the army chief’s call for presidential elections before the end of the year.

Friday’s pro-democracy protest, the 29th in a row, is seen as a test of the continued strength of the movement and a way to gauge the temperature of General Salah’s call to set a date by September 15 for presidential elections.

If the electoral college is summoned on 15 September as demanded by Gaid Salah, polls should therefore take place in mid-December.

Gaid Salah has emerged as a key powerbroker since Bouteflika was forced out.

Recently, he has called for the “acceleration” of preparations to hold a presidential election before the end of the year, including the creation of an independent body to “supervise all the steps of the electoral process”.

But key groups within the protest movement, including opposition parties and civil society groups, demand constitutional changes and a reform of state institutions before an election can be held.

Image: AFP/Getty

Article: The New Arab