The Algerian military on Tuesday called for the enforcement of a constitutional article that allows the removal of the president on health grounds.

This is amid mass protests calling for long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down, NAN reports.

The Military Chief of Staff, Gaid Saleh, in a speech said “A solution should be adopted that ensures getting out of the crisis and responding to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people.”

“The solution is stipulated in the constitution, in Article 102,’’ he added.

Tuesday’s statement is the army’s first clear position on the anti-Bouteflika demonstrations, which have rocked the North African country since February.

Bouteflika, 82, suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public.

Earlier this month, he returned to Algeria after a two-week medical trip in Switzerland.

Article 102 stipulates that the country’s Constitutional Council shall meet and then propose to the parliament to declare the inability of the president to exercise his functions due to verified, serious and enduring illness.

The parliament speaker will be then appointed as interim president for 45 days.

Hundreds of thousands of Algerians have been protesting for nearly five weeks, demanding that Bouteflika step down after 20 years in power.

Earlier this month, Bouteflika bowed to the nationwide protests and renounced his bid for a fifth term in office.

But, he announced an unspecified transitional period and postponement of the presidential polls, originally scheduled for April 18.

Bouteflika’s plan was seen as a trick to prolong his current fourth term, which ends on April 18, and protests have continued since then.

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