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Algerian election on 4 July 'impossible,' rules constitutional council

No new date for polls has been set, after just two candidates were submitted and both deemed invalid
Algerian protesters march with a giant national flag during a demonstration in the capital Algiers (AFP)

It would be "impossible" for elections to be held in Algeria on 4 July, state television reported the constitutional council as saying, prolonging the country's transitional period.

The council reached a decision after only two candidates were submitted, both deemed invalid.

"The constitutional council rejects the candidature applications" and as a result has announced "the impossibility of holding presidential elections on 4 July," a statement carried on television said.

Now it will be up to interim president Abdelkader Bensalah to "again convene the electoral body and to finalise the electoral process" until a new head of state is sworn in, the statement said.

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Algeria has been in political limbo since president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned two months ago following weeks of widespread protests over his 20-year rule and intention to run for re-election.

Bensalah, formerly parliament speaker, stepped into the role of interim president on 9 April as part of a transitional process that the constitution commands must be completed within 90 days.

However, Algerians have said elections too early would hamper efforts to sweep away the remnants of Bouteflika's old regime and favour the military.

They have continued to protest in order to maintain pressure, and called for Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui to be removed.

General Ahmed Gaid Salah, the army chief of staff and a key power-broker overseeing the transition, backed 4 July elections.

A new date for elections has not been set.