Algeria presidential election sets for July 4

Algeria’s newly appointed president has set July 4 as the date for the country’s postponed presidential election, according to state media.

The announcement on Wednesday came a day Abdelkader Bensalah was appointed as interim president for 90 days, replacing long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika who stepped down last week in the face of mass protests against him.

Bensalah, who will not be able to run in the election, signed a decree on the vote shortly after taking the post on Tuesday, Algeria’s official news agency APS reported.

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In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, the 77-year-old pledged to deliver a free and transparent election within his tenure and said he hoped the vote would return a president committed to building a new Algeria.

Bensalah also announced plans to urgently create a “sovereign” body, with the help of the political class and civil society, to help lay down the required conditions for an “honest” process.

His appointment, however, failed to quell protesters, with thousands on Wednesday taking to the streets of the capital, Algiers, to call for a complete political overhaul.

Demonstrators have repeatedly demanded the departure of a coterie of individuals closely-linked to Bouteflika’s administration, including the so-called “three Bs”; Bensalah, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui and head of the Constitutional Council Tayeb Belaiz.

Algeria’s political turmoil began in late February when the 82-year-old Bouteflika announced his bid to seek a fifth term in office in an election planned for April 18.

The move triggered mass rallies against the ailing leader, which eventually forced him to backtrack and postpone the poll. But Bouteflika, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a 2013 stroke, said he would remain in office to oversee a transition that would include drafting a new constitution.

The pledges failed to appease protesters, who continued rallying en masse demanding a total political overhaul.

On April 2, after weeks of mass nationwide protests and increasing pressure from the powerful armed forces, Bouteflika announced his resignation. In accordance with Algeria’s constitution, Bensalah, the chairman of the upper house of parliament, took over as caretaker president.

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