Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Algeria president replaces prime minister in wake of polls


tiamin rice

A picture taken on February 2, 2016 shows Abdelmadjid Tebboune during a meeting of the National Liberation Front (FLN) in Algeria. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on May 24, 2017 appointed Abdelmadjid Tebboune as the country’s new prime minister, replacing his confidant Abdelmalek Sellal in the wake of parliamentary elections. / AFP PHOTO / RYAD KRAMDI

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika appointed a new prime minister Wednesday, replacing his ally Abdelmalek Sellal in the wake of parliamentary elections.

The president’s office, quoted by national news agency APS, said Sellal and his government had resigned and the premier would be replaced by housing minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Sellal had been expected to keep the post of premier after Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN) and its coalition ally won a clear majority in the May 4 poll.

The election was marred by low turnout amid voter disillusionment over what many see as broken government promises and a political system tainted by corruption.

Despite being charged with forming a new government, Sellal was apparently unable to convince the main Islamist bloc, which came third, to join a coalition amid accusations of fraud.

The Islamist coalition said the FLN and its coalition ally the Rally for National Democracy (RND) had stuffed ballot boxes and committed violence against its supporters.

Abderrazak Makri, who heads the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), said his party and its ally the Front for Change would have won if there had not been any fraud.

Tebboune is seen to be close to the ailing 80-year-old president, who named him culture minister in his first government in 1999.

The 71-year-old had been housing minister since 2012.

Bouteflika “congratulated Sellal and members of the outgoing government for the work they have accomplished”, the president’s office said.

But the MSP slammed Sellal’s record.

“We consider the previous government’s record, in terms of its programme, decisions and behaviour, generally negative for the present and future of Algeria,” it said.

Algeria weathered the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings with massive spending on wages and subsidies that depleted government coffers.

But a 2014 collapse in crude oil prices forced the government of the North African country to raise taxes and mothball many public projects.

Today, in a country of 40 million where half the population is under 30, one young person in three is unemployed.

Algerian politics has also been overshadowed by speculation around who will eventually succeed Bouteflika — although experts say the real decision lies in the hands of the country’s secretive elite.

Bouteflika has been in power since 1999 but has rarely appeared in public since he suffered a crippling stroke in 2013.

Arabic daily Echorouk said Wednesday the next government would likely consist of “the two ruling parties, the FLN and the RND, alongside a mosaic of parties that are used to operating on the edges of power”.

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