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Algeria's constitutional council scraps July 4 presidential election

Ryad Kramdi, AFP | Algerian protesters march with a giant national flag during a demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 31, 2019.

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.

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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 organise 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.

The July vote had been backed by Algeria's army chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, a key powerbroker who supported Bouteflika until ultimately calling for the impeachment of the long-time leader.

Salah, who has been overseeing the transition, has called on political parties and protesters to hold talks on finding 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 neighbouring Libya, where rival forces are fighting over the capital, Tripoli.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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