Some seek constitutional vacuum in Algeria – claim

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Algeria’s army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah accused some parties of favouring a constitutional vacuum to prolong the country’s political crisis.

Veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down as president on April 2 following two months of mass protests demanding democratic reforms and prosecution of people viewed by demonstrators as corrupt.

Demonstrations continue now seeking the removal of the entire ruling elite that has governed the North African nation since independence from France in 1962.

“Certain parties want to enter a dark tunnel called ‘constitutional vacuum’,” a defence ministry statement quoted Gaed Salah as saying at a military base in Bechar.

“This means destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state.”

Protesters now demand the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, a former head of the upper house of parliament, who they see as an ally of Bouteflika.

Authorities postponed a presidential election set for July 4 citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set.

The army is now the main player in Algeria’s politics and Gaed Salah called for dialogue to prepare for elections and pave the way for a new president to start reforms demanded by protesters.

DETENTIONS

Gaed Salah vowed to bring to justice people suspected of involvement in corruption.

A court in Algiers on 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 allegations against him. VW has also not commented on allegations against its Algerian partner.

A former head of state bank Credit Populaire d’Algerie (CPA) and four officials from the industry ministry were placed in custody in the same case.

The Supreme Court last week ordered the detention of former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek 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 are jailed in Algiers pending 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 Gaed Salah as saying.