Alwaght- Algeria's army chief has called for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule the country, after weeks of protests against the ailing head of state's decision to seek a fifth term.
Although Bouteflika later reversed his decision, the 82-year-old postponed elections set for April and said he would remain in power until a new constitution was adopted, a move that effectively extended his current term.
In a televised address on Tuesday, Ahmed Gaid Salah, the army chief, said he considered the people's demands to be valid and that the presidency should be vacated.
"We must adopt a solution that helps us out of this crisis … a solution that respects and adheres to the constitution so that it's a suitable one for all sides," Salah said.
"This solution is stipulated in Article 102 of the Constitution," he said.
Under Article 102, the Constitutional Council could determine the president is too ill to fully exercise his functions, and ask the parliament to declare him unfit. Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.
If a two-thirds majority of the parliament's lower and upper house ratify the council's decision, the chairman of the upper house, Abdelkader Bensalah, would serve as caretaker president for at least 45 days.
El Bilad television said the Constitutional Council had convened a special session after Salah's move.
The army chief is powerful in Algeria and his announcement could pave the way for Bouteflika's removal.
The move comes days after Hocine Khaldoun, spokesman for the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), said he will ask the party to withdraw its support for Bouteflika's proposal to hold a national conference aimed at getting the country out of its current political deadlock.
Since February 22, hundreds of thousands of Algerians have taken part in nationwide demonstrations protesting Bouteflika's re-election bid.
An Algerian protest leader rejected the army's attempt to have Bouteflika declared unfit, saying the people wanted a national government of consensus.
"The Algerian people don't accept that the government, or a symbol of power of this system, manages the transition period," Mustapha Bouchachi, a lawyer and protest leader said, was quoted as saying by the online outlet Huffpost Maghreb.