Algeria's Bouteflika ally quits amid protests

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
ALGIERS
Published 17.04.2019 00:09

The head of Algeria's constitutional council stepped down Tuesday after weeks facing the ire of protesters calling on the ruling elite to leave, not only the veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Tayeb Belaiz informed the council, which will play a key role in upcoming presidential elections, that "he presented his resignation... to the head of state."

Algerians have called for Belaiz and other top figures to quit in mass demonstrations which prompted the departure of Bouteflika earlier this month. Protesters have targeted the "three Bs"; Belaiz, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, and Abdelkader Bensalah who served as upper house speaker until being appointed interim president after Bouteflika's resignation.

Bensalah has defended his appointment under constitutional rules and has pledged a transparent vote, to be held on July 4. The constitutional council is tasked with vetting election candidates, as well as ensuring the regularity of the polls. Belaiz has served as a minister almost without interruption for 16 years and was appointed head of the constitutional council for the second time on Feb. 2. Later that month Algerians took to the streets to rally against Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in polls initially scheduled for April. The demonstrations swelled and spread nationwide, with protesters calling for a broad overhaul of the political system following the president's departure.

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