Algeria protest leaders tell army to stay out of politics

* Protest leaders emerge from weeks of unrest

* Bold call on military not to intervene

* “Platform of Change”

ALGIERS, March 19 (Reuters) – A new group headed by political leaders, opposition figures and activists called on Algeria’s powerful generals to stay out of politics as it pressed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the government to quit.

In the first direct message to the army from leaders emerging from mass protests against Bouteflika, the National Coordination for Change said the military should “play its constitutional role without interfering in the people choice”.

Generals have traditionally wielded power from behind the scenes in Algeria but have stepped in during pivotal moments.

In 1992, the army cancelled elections an Islamist party was set to win, triggering a long civil war that killed an estimated 200,000 people. Soldiers have stayed in their barracks throughout the recent unrest.

In a…

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