September 10, 2019 / 11:49 AM / 11 days ago

Algerian PM Bedoui to resign, paving way for vote -sources

Algeria's newly appointed prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, speaks at a news conference in Algiers, March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui will resign soon to facilitate the holding of elections this year that the army sees as the only way to end a standoff over months of protests, two senior sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Bedoui’s departure is a major demand of protesters, who in April forced long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to quit, and who have rejected fresh elections until there is a more thorough change of the power structure.

Army chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Saleh said last week that the electoral commission should by Sept. 15 call an election, a move that would trigger a 90-day countdown to the vote.

The mass demonstrations began in February and have continued since Bouteflika’s departure, with the loose-knit movement demanding that all figures associated with him also leave and that the army play a smaller role in state affairs.

The election had been scheduled for July, but was postponed as a result of the crisis, leaving oil- and gas-exporter Algeria in a constitutional deadlock.

Over the summer the authorities have made concessions by arresting more prominent figures linked to Bouteflika on corruption charges, while increasing the pressure on protesters with tougher policing.

Protests continue on Tuesdays and Fridays but at a smaller level than during the first months of the year, when hundreds of thousands of people regularly marched through central Algiers.

Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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