Algeria is set to hold presidential elections on July 4th. This recent announcement by interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah comes after a series of protests which forced long-term President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 to realign. The temporary appointment of speaker of the Algerian parliament’s upper house, Mr. Bensalah as interim president has angered many protesters who had hoped for a radical change. Many people view the 77 year old as an ally of the former president and him leading the country is not in line with the freedom that protesters wanted.
Before taking the interim president position, Mr Bensalah had pledged to make sure that the country will hold free and fair elections within 90 days. Protests in Algeria started way back in February as angry protesters hit the road demanding the ousting of President Abdelaziz Boutelfika and his entire government. Protesters have been holding placards and online posts demand the ousting of “Le Pouvoir” meaning every person who is close to the former president should leave office.
On Wednesday, Lt Gen Gaid Salah, Algeria’s army chief made his first address to the public since Mr. Bensalah was appointed as the interim president. In a speech which was televised country wide, he cautioned the protesters about their hard lines demands that could end up undermining the integrity of the country’s constitution. He also asked the country’s judiciary to investigate ‘the whole gang’ a phrase that is used in reference to those who had a close connection with the former president.
Many people took Mr. Bouteflika to be the front of military officials, politicians and businessmen who were believed to be controlling the country. So far there have been peaceful protests even though security forces were on Tuesday and Wednesday forced to use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters.