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Retired general calls for Bouteflika to leave 'with dignity and pride'

April 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm

In an interview published on Wednesday, retired Algerian Major General Hocine Benhadid called on Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to leave “with dignity and pride” and not to run for a fourth presidential term in the upcoming elections, scheduled for 17 April.

In a conversation published in both Arabic and French by Al-Khabar and Al-Watan newspapers, Benhadid claimed that he speaks on behalf of a number of his colleagues, without mentioning any of their names.

He explained: “That’s what I am asking President Bouteflika to do, as stated in the pride and dignity slogan (Bouteflika’s slogan which brought him to power in 1999): he has to leave with this slogan to let Algeria regain its breath.”

Bouteflika, who has been ruling the country for 15 years, has not announced his presidential plans, except to people who are close to him and the political parties that have asked him to once again run for the presidency despite his advanced age (76 years old) and his lack of full recovery from a stroke that forced him to seek treatment in France for 80 days.

The deadline for the submission of nominations is 4 March, as previously announced by the Constitutional Council.

Major General Benhadid enjoyed a long and distinguished professional career in the Algerian military, as he was the commander of the Second Armoured Division, the most important division in the Algerian army, before becoming a commander of the military in Béchar, in the southwest of the country, and then an adviser to both the president of the republic and the minister of defence, Alyameen Zeroual.

Benhadid, who has not spoken to the media since his retirement from the army in 1996, added: “This ill person can’t guarantee the stability of this country and I don’t think he has the physical or the intellectual ability, but his entourage is manipulating Algeria’s fate.”

He particularly attacked the president’s brother, Said Bouteflika, as “the most dangerous man in the president’s entourage”, as well as the army chief of staff and deputy defence minister, Kaid Saleh, who he said does not have that much popularity within the army.

Benhadid noted that the president’s entourage is behind the recent public attacks against the chief of the intelligence agency, because “the president is sick and doesn’t have the ability of even thinking about confrontation; however, he gave his entourage the green light to attack the intelligence agency.”

He pointed the finger at Ammar Saadani, the secretary general of the National Liberation Front, known as the FLN, who demanded earlier in February for the director of the intelligence agency and the strong man in power, Lieutenant General Mohamed Mediene, also known as General Tawfiq, to resign, accusing him of “negligence” regarding the tasks of protecting the country and of intervention in all the aspects of the state.

Benhadid noted that, “the president and his entourage are afraid of accountability because they know that many heavy corruption files in the intelligence agency could be held against them.”

Domestic newspapers have accused the president’s brother, Said Bouteflika, of involvement in corruption in the past. Additionally, the court had formally accused the former minister of energy and mines, Chakib Khelil, who is a close associate to Bouteflika’s entourage, of receiving bribes in exchange for deals.

On Tuesday, President Bouteflika broke his silence over the recent public attacks to support the army and denounce “the attempts to prejudice the unity of the army” in a message of condolence for the military transport plane that had crashed, killing 77 people.