Algeria‘s constitutional council has said it was impossible to hold elections to choose a successor to ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika early next month as planned, after the only two candidates were rejected.
The council said in a statement on Sunday that it rejected “the candidates’ applications” and subsequently declared “the impossiblity of holding presidential elections on July 4”.
As a result, it will now be up to interim President Abdelkader Bensalah to “again convene the electoral body and to finalise the electoral process”.
The planned vote has drawn widespread protest, with Algerian demonstrators demanding Bouteflika allies step aside to make way for a broader political overhaul before any elections are held.
“Algerians have protested for 15 weeks, we are heading towards a sixteenth week of protests so the issue here is Bensalah has to listen to the protesters,” said Mohamed Kirat, professor of media studies at Qatar University.
“Because with the current government and Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui still in power, there is no way that Algerians will go to vote for a new president,” added Kirat.
The July vote had been backed by Algeria’s army chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, a key powerbroker who supported Bouteflika until ultimately calling for the impeachment of the long-time leader, who stood down in April in the face of mass protests.
Bensalah, the former upper house speaker, was appointed the interim president to lead the north African country for a period of 90 days, at the end of which a vote was to be held.