ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria’s interim president, in a televised speech, promised on Tuesday to organise free elections within 90 days following weeks of protests that led to the resignation of leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika after 20 years in power.
Abdelkader Bensalah, the interim president, was rejected by demonstrators right after he was named by Parliament to take charge during a volatile transition period after decades of autocratic rule.
“I am committed to organising elections,” said Mr Bensalah, who has been re-elected as leader of the upper house since the early 2000s. The army was aligned with the constitution as a pathway out of the crisis, he added in his 16-minute speech.
Mr Bensalah said he would consult with the political class and civil society. A long-time ally of Mr Bouteflika, he is seen by protesters as part of an aging and out-of-touch ruling caste that has dominated since independence from France in 1962.
Mr Bensalah promised to “set a national and sovereign commission to secure fair elections” in an apparent bid to placate demonstrators demanding sweeping democratic reforms and economic opportunities.
More than one in four people under the age of 30 – some 70 percent of Algeria’s population – are unemployed despite the country’s vast oil wealth.