Photograph — Al Jazeera

Algeria’s constitutional council has canceled plans to conduct a presidential election early next month, saying it will be impossible for it to hold the vote by then.

Just two candidates had registered their interest in contesting the election, and protesters had demanded it be canceled, fearing it would only prolong the current administration.

In a statement released at the weekend, the council cited a lack of candidates as a reason for scrapping the scheduled vote. It said that it rejected “the candidates’ applications” and subsequently declared “the impossibility of holding presidential elections on July 4” which was meant to replace the ousted Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The council, however, did not set a new date for the election, stating that it was up to interim President Abdelkader Bensalah to organise and set a new date for the vote. With the latest development, former upper house speaker Bensalah, who had been appointed as interim leader until July 9, is likely to see his rule extended.

Meanwhile, demonstrations have since continued, with protesters demanding Bensalah’s resignation in a push for greater change among the country’s ruling elite. Bouteflika was replaced by Bensalah as interim president but many view him as too close to the former leader. As such, they are demanding an end to the dominance of the elite who have ruled Algeria since its independence from France in 1962.

The July vote had been supported by Algeria’s army chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has been overseeing the transition. Salah, who earlier supported Bouteflika, joined in calling for the impeachment of the long-time leader.

Last Friday, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Algiers and other cities to call for Bensalah’s removal and that of Prime Minister Bedoui, who was appointed by Bouteflika days before he stepped down.

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