In Summary
  • Hocine Benhadid also accused the president's inner circle of "treason" after Amar Saidani, the ruling party's secretary general, publicly accused the powerful military intelligence chief of interfering in politics to the detriment of the country's security.

A retired senior Algerian general has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down "with dignity" and not run for a fourth term in April, in an interview published Wednesday.

Hocine Benhadid also accused the president's inner circle of "treason" after Amar Saidani, the ruling party's secretary general, publicly accused the powerful military intelligence chief of interfering in politics to the detriment of the country's security.

"Here is what I'm asking from President Bouteflika: He came to power with the slogan 'pride and dignity'... so he should retire... with dignity and let Algeria catch its breath," Benhadid told the newspapers El Khabar and El Watan.

His comments are the latest sign of an intensifying power struggle between Bouteflika's supporters and the army, ahead of the presidential poll.

Benhadid, who once commanded one of Algeria's military regions, said he was speaking on behalf of others in the armed forces, without saying whom, "because we cannot let this situation continue."

The 76-year-old Bouteflika, who has been in power for 15 years, suffered a mini-stroke that confined him to hospital in Paris for three months last year. He has yet to say if his health will permit him to run for re-election.

But for Benhadid, the country's stability cannot be guaranteed by someone who was "sick" and the "hostage of his entourage."

He singled out for criticism Bouteflika's brother Said, the "main actor" in the presidential clan, as well as army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, one of the ailing leader's key allies.

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