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04.09.2019 Algeria

Algeria army chief reiterates demand for swift presidential poll

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Algeria's army chief insisted Wednesday that a vote to elect a successor to ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika be delayed no longer, repeating his demand that polls be held before year-end.

"I want to insist one more time -- the situation cannot tolerate more delay", General Ahmed Gaid Salah said, speaking on the political crisis in the North African country.

"On the contrary, it demands that these decisive elections be held... in the timeframe I mentioned in my previous speech," he added.

Gaid Salah emerged as the key powerbroker after Bouteflika resigned in April in the face of mass protests after 20 years in power.

On Monday, Gaid Salah said the electoral college should be summoned "on September 15" so that the elections "can be held within the deadline stipulated by the law".

Elections planned for July 4 were postponed due to a lack of viable candidates, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis as the 90 day mandate for the interim head of state -- Abdelkader Bensalah -- expired at the beginning of July.

The army's high command has rejected any solution to the crisis other than presidential elections "in the shortest possible time".

But protestors, who have so far maintained a united front and continue to take to the streets every week, have repeatedly demanded key regime figures step down and credible institutions be established before any polls.

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