Algiers: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika might resign this week, the private Ennahar and El Bilad TV channels said on Sunday, after mass protests and pressure from the army demanding he end his 20-year rule.
The reports come after the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah, renewed a call on Saturday for the Constitutional Council to declare the ailing 82-year-old Bouteflika unfit to rule.
Seeking to defuse the demonstrations, Bouteflika said on March 11 he was dropping plans for a fifth term. But he stopped short of stepping down immediately, to wait for a national conference on political change.
That further enraged protesters, prompting Salah to step in by proposing last week to ask the constitutional council to see whether he is still fit for office.
Bouteflika, who has rarely been in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, might announce his resignation on Tuesday, Ennahar TV said, citing political sources. El Bilad TV, quoting unnamed sources, said he would quit this week.
State media did not report similar reports, and there was no immediate comment from the presidency.
Ennahar said Bouteflika was preparing his resignation in accordance with article 102 of the constitution, which allows him to quit or face the verdict of the constitutional council whether he is still fit for office.
Late on Sunday, hundreds took to the streets in the capital, Algiers, to demand Bouteflika go, according to residents and pictures posted on social media.
The reports came hours after Bouteflika named a caretaker Cabinet. Political sources said that might be a signal that Bouteflika could resign, as a caretaker president cannot name Cabinets.
Bouteflika on Sunday named a new government headed by recently appointed Noureddine Bedoui, a statement from the presidency said.
State television reported that armed forces chief Ahmad Gaid Salah, who has called for Bouteflika to step down, remained as deputy defence minister.
Veteran politician Ramtane Lamamra, who was appointed deputy prime minister and foreign minister on March 11, was not named in the new administration.
Ailing Bouteflika, who has rarely being seen in public since a 2013 stroke, has come under mounting pressure to quit power since his decision to seek a fifth term sparked huge demonstrations.
Bouteflika said earlier this month he would pull out of the race and postponed April elections, in moves that angered Algerians who see it as a ploy to extend his two decades in power.
Faced with persistent public anger, a succession of veteran Bouteflika loyalists have deserted the president in recent days.
On Tuesday, chief of staff Gaid Salah, who was appointed in 2004, called for him to step down or be declared medically unfit.
The chief of staff cited Article 102 of the constitution, under which a president can be removed if found unfit to rule.
Long a faithful Bouteflika supporter, Gaid Salah said on television it was “imperative” to find a way out of the crisis “which responds to the legitimate demands” of the people in line with the constitution.
Despite the calls, huge crowds thronged the streets of Algeria’s capital on Friday for a sixth successive week, saying the moves by his key allies to abandon Bouteflika were not enough.