Algeria army chief calls on President Bouteflika to quit

 Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah called for Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (center) to step down.

(CNN)Algeria's army chief has demanded the country's ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, step down following months of mass protest calling for his removal.

In a speech broadcast by private television station Ennahar on Tuesday, General Ahmed Gaid Salah called the protesters' demands "legitimate" and invoked a provision in the constitution stating that if the health of the president does not allow him to carry out his function then the office is to be declared vacant.
"To resolve the crisis [in the country] right now, the implementation of article 102 is necessary and is the only guarantee to maintain a peaceful political situation," he said.
    "These protests have continued up till now in a peaceful and civilized way ... and could be exploited by parties with bad intentions inside and outside of Algeria," the general added.
    Article 102 stipulates that in the case of the president's inability to carry out his duties due to a serious or chronic illness, the head of the national assembly should take his place for a period of no more than 45 days.
    Mass protests kicked off in Africa's biggest country over upcoming elections.
      After weeks of demonstrations against his candidacy, it was announced on March 11 that Bouteflika will not seek a fifth term in office and the April 18 elections would be postponed.
      Bouteflika has refused to relinquish power even though it is widely believed he is incapacitated by illness and has left the reins of the country in the hands of a civilian-military elite.