Algeria: Army Chief Calls For Unconditional Dialogue

Algeria’s Army Chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah on Tuesday ruled out accepting any preconditions by the opposition to launching talks to end the country’s political crisis, reported Al Jazeera.

Algerians have been protesting since February, demanding political change, leading to the removal of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on April 2. After Bouteflika’s exit, the people now want the departure of key regime figures and an overhaul of the North African country’s political system.

Speaking at the Defense Ministry Headquarters in Algiers, Salah said they cannot afford to lose any more time now. He said that his government will continue to perform its duties till the election of a new president.

“There is no more time to lose,” the army chief said slamming what he called “preconditions which amount to diktats”.

“Elections are the essential point around which dialogue must focus, a dialogue that we welcome and hope will be successful,” he added.

Last Thursday, interim President Abdelkader Bensalah appointed a seven-member committee to discuss arrangements for the next election. But Algerians took to the streets once again on Friday to protest against the committee, which, they said, does not represent them.

The protest movement is calling for some measures to be taken before the start of any dialogue. The list includes the release of people arrested in connection with the demonstrations, deployment of fewer police forces during the weekly demonstrations, and lifting of blockades put in place at the entrances to Algiers every Friday to impede the rallies.

While Bensalah had said he was open to considering the demands, Salah, on Tuesday, emphasized that dialogue must take place without setting any preconditions. He added that the police deployment is for the security of the marches. Salah insisted that the rallies must be properly organized to avoid them from being infiltrated.

A new date for the presidential polls is yet to be announced.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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