ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria cannot hold a presidential election planned for July 4 due to a lack of valid candidates, its constitutional council said on Sunday, prolonging the country’s transition after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned two months ago.
The move will likely extend the rule of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, who was meant to stay only until the vote to elect a new president after Bouteflika ended his 20-year rule in the wake of mass protests.
Demonstrations have since continued, with protesters demanding Bensalah’s resignation and an end to the dominance of the elite who have ruled Algeria since it won independence from France in 1962.
In a statement on state television, the constitutional council said it had received only two candidates, who were deemed invalid. It did not set a new date for the presidential election, asking Bensalah to organize a vote at a later date, state television said.
Bensalah had been appointed as interim leader until July 9.
On Friday, hundreds of thousands again took to the streets of Algiers and other cities to call for his removal and that of Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who was appointed by Bouteflika days before he stepped down.
Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaed Salah, who has been managing the transition, has called on political parties and protesters to meet amongst themselves to discuss a way out of the crisis.
Analysts say the army, a major player in the oil and gas producer, is concerned about the crisis continuing at a time when instability is worsening in neighboring Libya, where rival forces are fighting over the capital Tripoli.
Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Ulf Laessing, editing by Deepa Babington