ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria’s army chief of staff said he expects the judiciary to prosecute some of what protesters call the corrupt ruling elite and he pledged to support a transition expected to lead to elections, Ennahar television reported.
Lieutenant General Gaid Salah’s comments were the strongest hint yet that the military will play its traditional role as kingmaker following weeks of protests which prompted veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign after 20 years in office.
“The army will meet the people’s demands,” said Salah, addressing officers and soldiers at a military base. “The judiciary has recovered its prerogative and can work freely.”
He referred to the ruling caste as “the gang”, a term protesters have been using to describe ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), big businessmen and veterans of the war of independence against France which ended in 1962.
The announcement came shortly after Ennahar TV reported that
the interior ministry had issued licenses for 10 new political parties, a day after parliament named upper house chairman Abdelkader Bensalah as interim president.
Bensalah said he would organize free elections that are expected to be held within 90 days.
Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Mark Heinrich