FRI 24 - 1 - 2020
Jun 19, 2019
The Daily Star
Those who oppose military are 'enemies of Algeria': army chief
ALGIERS: Military chief General Ahmad Gaid Salah said Tuesday that those who oppose the army were "enemies of Algeria," as the country's protest movement demands an overhaul of the entire regime.
Those with "grudges and animosity towards the army and its command ... are undoubtedly enemies of Algeria," said Gaid Salah, the country's strongman since longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was ousted in April.
"Those who are knowingly trying to circumvent ... terms of the constitution, do they realize what it means to suppress all state institutions?" he asked in a speech.
Gaid Salah said a constitutional vacuum would amount to "the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state."
"It is unthinkable to proceed in the name of the people with the destruction of the achievements of the Algerian people, that is to say ... the constitution."
Protesters are also now demanding the resignation of interim president Abdel-Kader Bensalah, a former head of the upper house of Parliament, whom they see as a close ally of Bouteflika.
The authorities have postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4 citing a lack of candidates. No new date for the vote has been set.
The army is now the main player in Algeria's politics, and Gaid Salah has called for dialogue to prepare for elections and pave the way for a new president to start the reforms demanded by protesters.
Gaid Salah has vowed to help bring to justice people suspected of involvement in corruption cases.
A court in Algiers Monday ordered the detention of Mourad Eulmi, head of family-owned firm SOVAC, a partner of Germany's Volkswagen AG, over suspected corruption. Eulmi has not commented on the allegations against him. VW has also not commented on the allegations against its Algerian partner.
A former head of state bank Credit Populaire d'Algerie (CPA) and four officials from the industry ministry were also placed in custody in the same case.
The Supreme Court last week ordered the detention of former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdel-Malek Sellal as well as ex-trade minister Amara Benyounes for "dissipation of public funds and awarding illegal privileges".
Bouteflika’s youngest brother Said and two former intelligence chiefs are also in custody accused of "harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority".
Other prominent businessmen have been jailed in Algiers pending the completion of corruption inquiries.
"When the National People's Army was working with responsibility, self-denial and disinterestedness, some people ... cunningly planned to appropriate public funds," the statement quoted Gaid Salah as saying.
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