|Date: May 18, 2019|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Algeria presidential vote may be postponed|
ALGIERS: Algeria’s imminent presidential election looks likely to be postponed, a source said Friday, as protesters returned to the streets for the 13th successive Friday to demand the removal of the nation’s ruling elite. After two decades in power, President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika quit last month under pressure from protesters and the army, but demonstrations have continued seeking political reforms and the removal of all officials belonging to the old guard. A presidential election is scheduled for July 4.
But a source familiar with the matter said the vote was to be delayed due to difficulties of organizing the logistics in time and opposition on the street.
“There won’t be elections on July 4,” the source told Reuters, asking not to be identified.
Thousands of protesters gathered again Friday, calling for the resignations of the interim president, Abdel-Kader Bensalah, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, appointed by Bouteflika days before he stepped down.
“No to elections of shame. Remove Bensalah and Bedoui first,” read one banner held up in downtown Algiers.
The Constitutional Council, which is overseeing the transition, was expected to issue a statement on the election process shortly. The deadline for would-be presidential candidates to collect and submit 60,000 signatures is May 25.
The source told Reuters the vote could be delayed until the end of the year, with names in the air to run the transition including conservative former minister Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi and technocrat and former prime minister Ahmed Benbitour.
Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, a longtime Bouteflika ally whose change of heart marked the beginning of the end for the 82-year-old president, has been accused of trying to impose his vision for the transition.
The army, the north African country’s most powerful institution, has sought appeasement by meeting a number of protesters’ demands including launching anti-graft probes against people suspected of misuse of power and public funds.