Algeria’s prime minister pledges roles for youth and women

Noureddine Bedoui vows to form new ‘technocratic’ government by next week

Algeria’s deputy prime minister Ramtane Lamamra speaks during a joint news conference with newly appointed prime minister Noureddine Bedoui in Algiers, Algeria, on Thursday. Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

Algeria’s deputy prime minister Ramtane Lamamra speaks during a joint news conference with newly appointed prime minister Noureddine Bedoui in Algiers, Algeria, on Thursday. Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

 

Algeria’s new prime minister has urged the opposition to “accept dialogue” during a transition period ahead of postponed presidential elections, and said he would form an inclusive technocratic government that would include women and the young people who are clamouring for political change.

Noureddine Bedoui’s move is part of an effort by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his backers in the military to appease Algerians after almost three weeks of nationwide mass protests over the ailing leader’s plan to seek a fifth term.

Mr Bouteflika bowed to pressure on Monday, announcing he would not run in elections originally scheduled for April 18th.

Instead the vote would be postponed and he would oversee a transition period that would include a national conference to debate political and economic reforms, draft a new constitution and set a date for a presidential election before the end of the year.

But the move has failed to mollify protesters, who have taken to the streets again calling for the president to leave office on April 28th, the day his term officially expires.

Protest movement

Many consider his continued presence at the helm a ploy by the regime to shape any new political arrangements and impose a preferred successor.

Mr Bedoui said on Thursday that he was in talks to form a new “technocratic” government that would be announced next week. It would include women and young people to represent the mainly youthful protest movement, he said. The government would be in charge for a short period and would support the work of the national conference.

“The make-up will be one that represents all the forces and especially the youthful ones of the sons and daughters of our nation, so that we can meet the aspirations that the Algerian citizen expressed,” he said.

Mr Bedoui also promised the formation of an independent electoral commission to make arrangements for the presidential election.

Algeria’s opposition parties are weak and fragmented and have been marginalised by the authorities for decades. Although they have supported the protests, they have not led them, and analysts say they lack the credibility to represent the movement in any talks with the government.

Demonstrations

So far the demonstrations have been mobilised through social media and have no identifiable leaders.

Mr Bouteflika is 82 and was paralysed by a stroke in 2013. It also impaired his speech and he has not been heard in public for six years.

Many suspect the real decision-making in Algeria lies in the hands of an opaque clique around the president and fear that despite promises of a national conference, there will be no real change.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019