Algiers, Algeria - Algeria's powerful army chief said Tuesday he wants to trigger the constitutional process that would declare President Abdelaziz Bouteflika unfit for office, after more than a month of mass protests against the ailing leader's long rule.
The Algerian army's chief of staff is one of the country's top power brokers, so the announcement by General Ahmed Gaid Salah could pave the way for Bouteflika's ouster after 20 years in power. The 82-year-old Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke.
Gaid Salah said in remarks carried on Algerian television that "the only guarantee for political stability" is to apply the article of the Algerian Constitution that empowers the Constitutional Council to determine if the president is too ill to fully exercise his functions and to ask lawmakers to declare him unfit.
If the request receives two-thirds majority approval in parliament, the Senate president takes charge of the government until a presidential election can be held, according to the constitutional procedure.
Protesters have called for the application of Article 102 during massive demonstrations that have been held in Algeria every Friday since Feb. 22.