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Algeria's top general calls for presidential elections within months

Ahmed Gaid Salah said presidential vote should be held before the end of 2019
Algerian authorities postponed a presidential election previously set for 4 July (Reuters/File photo)

The head of Algeria's army has called for presidential elections to be held before the end of the year, as the country remains under pressure to overhaul its political system after the ouster of longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

In a speech to the armed forces on Monday, Algerian general Ahmed Gaid Salah said the Electoral Commission should be summoned on 15 September, a procedure that would trigger a presidential election within 90 days.

"Today, based on our mission, mandate and respect for the constitution and the laws of the Republic, we find it best to summon the Electoral Commission on 15 September," Salah said, as reported by the official news agency APS

The general added that such a deadline for the election would be "reasonable" as it reflects "the people's pressing demands".

Since Bouteflika resigned in April following mass protests against his rule, Salah and the military have become the de-facto rulers of the country.

But protests continued on a regular basis, calling for a transition to democracy and the removal of government figures associated with Bouteflika's government, including the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah.

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Algerian authorities postponed a presidential election previously set for 4 July, citing a lack of candidates, and appointed a panel to hold a dialogue with the opposition and set election dates.

On Monday, Salah lauded the panel's efforts but called for accelerating the process for organising the election.

"This election, which will be considered an important date in Algeria's history, will certainly help us cross a far distance towards establishing a government of laws and fairness," he said. 

Salah also praised the judiciary's efforts against corruption. 

Since Bouteflika's ouster, Algerian courts have detained two former prime ministers and nine government ministers on corruption charges.