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Algerian army chief demands president's removal after mass protests

Protests Saturday in the Algerian city of Annaba. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Five weeks of massive protests in Algeria reached a tipping point, as the North African country's army chief called for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit for office and removed.

The backdrop: Bouteflika, 82, has rarely appeared in public since a 2013 stroke. He was only put forward for a fifth term last month because Algeria's factionalized elites couldn't decide on a successor. Earlier this month, Bouteflika called for the elections to be delayed and said he'd resign after a national conference charted the path forward. But the protesters aren't just demanding a new president — they want to topple the entire system.

What's next: With the army now opposing him, Bouteflika is unlikely to last much longer. There is a multi-step constitutional process to remove him from office, which would result in the leader of the upper house of parliament taking control until new elections can be held. In the meantime, Algeria's elites will be desperately scrambling to retain their power.

Go deeper: How the world's longest-serving leaders keep power, and hand it over