Algeria Army and People Share Unified Vision: Military Chief

(Bloomberg) -- Algeria’s people and the army share the same vision for the country’s future, the military chief of staff said Sunday, in an apparent overture to thousands protesting the re-election bid of the country’s aging president.

The military and the people “are partners in one destiny,” General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in his first comments since the biggest protests yet against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office that gripped the country last Friday.

“The Algerian people know how to protect their homeland,” he said.

The message, one of several Salah has issued over the past week, was markedly more appeasing than other speeches in which he warned that there were those who wanted to drag Algeria back to the chaos it endured during the ruinous civil war in the 1990s. It comes amid meida reports that Bouteflika, who has ruled the country since 1999, was to be discharged from a Geneva hospital where he’s been undergoing treatment for over a week.

Protesters had repeatedly asked the army to stand alongside them in their bid to force the 82-year-old Bouteflika to withdraw from the race. In one speech last week, Salah seemed to quash those hopes, warning against further instability.

Earlier, the ruling FLN party said it was in contact with other groups to seek a solution to the current crisis with the “least harm” being done.

The tone of the current speech appeared to signal an easing in the rhetoric. Salah repeatedly stressed that the Algerian army was born of the same mettle as the people and that it shared the same vision for the country’s future.

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