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Algerian protesters reject military's gambit to maintain power

Algeria's army chief has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit, paving the way for a caretaker president. But protesters argue the military must hand power to the people.
People carry national flags and banners during a protest calling on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to quit, in Algiers, Algeria March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina - RC1FD43A5650

After weeks of mounting protests in Algeria, with hundreds of thousands gathering to call upon ailing 82-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to relinquish office, there are further signs of the president’s inner circle deserting him.

The army’s chief of staff, Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah — backed by a key part of the country’s ruling coalition, the National Rally for Democracy, and the General Union of Algerian Workers — has echoed protesters’ demands for the president to step aside, proposing a managed process that would see power ceded to a senior member of the country’s political establishment.

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