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Algeria Cancels Presidential Election, Setting Up New Impasse

Hence the decision Sunday by the council, operating under the sway of the all-powerful army chief of staff, Ahmed Gaïd Salah.

Still, the interim president rejected by the street and installed with Mr. Bouteflika’s blessing, Abdelkader Bensalah, remains in power. And Mr. Gaïd Salah is still pulling the strings.

“What’s happened today is a victory for the people of Algeria, but it’s a victory with risk,” Mr. Abidi said.

Abdelouahab Fersaoui, head of a leading civil society group, the Youth-Action Union, said: “It’s an important victory, but it’s not definitive. Because those holding power are going to continue to impose their road map, with yet another postponement of elections, with the same machinery of this system rejected by the people.”

Algeria’s political opposition is divided and disputatious, with no single party or personality having emerged to lead the protest movement. But some — human rights lawyers and a handful of political figures outside the circles of power — who have historically spoken out against the governing authorities still have legitimacy with the movement.

“The people need to speak through a national conference, which could organize an electoral commission to prepare for clean, transparent elections,” said Fatiha Benabbou, a leading Algerian constitutional scholar.

Still, Sunday’s decision by the council represented another victory for the opposition, one in a succession that began months ago when demonstrators in the hitherto politically dormant North African nation, an important oil and gas exporter, demanded an end to the regime of the ailing Mr. Bouteflika.

Source: NYT > World

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