General Salah says some circles want to exploit the country’s crisis for their own political ambitions.
Rabat – Algeria’s military Chief of Staff has issued a veiled warning to the country’s protesters and political circles critical of the current regime, calling on them to respect the army and the “democratic institutions” it is supposed to embody.
A statement from the defense ministry quoted General Ahmed Gaid Salah on Tuesday, June 18, as insinuating that protesters “hold grudges and animosity towards the army and its command” and are “undoubtedly enemies of Algeria.”
General Salah’s warning comes as Algerians continue to ask for radical power shift months after former president Abdel Aziz Bouteflika resigned as he faced unprecedented popular anger after two decades in power.
Protesters, unimpressed by the current interim government’s promises of upholding the constitution and organizing “free and fair” elections, have made it clear they will not stop protesting until the entire Bouteflika cohort relinquishes political power to a new generation of politicians.
General Salah says that some protesters’ and political organizations’ perceived hostility towards the status quo is a frontal assault on the country’s constitution and a declaration of war against what he sees as the pillars of “the Algerian democracy.”
“Those who are knowingly trying to circumvent… terms of the constitution, do they realize what it means to suppress all state institutions?” he asked.
With protesters bent on driving interim president Abdelkader Bensalah out of Office, General Salah said such an occurrence would usurp the country’s constitution. This, he argued, would amount to the “the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state.”
In the most recent developments, the interim government has initiated a witch hunt against a number of former Bouteflika political and business tycoons it accused of large scale corruption.
The move is largely seen as a strategy for the interim regime to distance itself from the Bouteflika establishment which protesters say is the cause of the country’s dire economic situation.
According to General Salah, some political circles are only challenging the country’s authorities to advance their own agenda. “When the National People’s Army was working with responsibility, self-denial and disinterestedness, some people cunningly planned to appropriate public funds.”
But the ongoing witch hunt has not calmed protests, with many dissenters insisting on the departure of Abdelkader Bensalah.
Most recently, the country’s constitutional court canceled the general elections that were scheduled for July 4 amid fears of escalating crisis. With demonstrator manifestly unwilling to give in to the government’s successive placatory moves, the Algerian crisis does not appear to show signs of ending anytime soon.