Real political change in view in #Algeria after resignation of President Bouteflika? Scepticism after re-appointment of Nouredine Bedoui 

| April 4, 2019

After Algeria’s ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika (pictured), agreed Monday 1 April to step down by the end of the month after ruling the country for 20 years, yielding to weeks of mass demonstrations demanding his ousting, what’s next with this country’s political future? Would Bouteflika’s anouncement quell the protests which have been calling not only for the presidents resignation but mainly for the end of cronysm and corruption his clan system oversaw, writes Foreign Affairs Analyst Yossi Lempkowicz.

No date has been set for new elections and there is no sign of a departure of Bouteflika’s allies. So political observers rather express skepticism than real hope about the propsect of fundamental and radical political changes. The Algerian population continues to demand a pure and simple eviction of the current Algerian regime.

This scepticism about a creal hange has been reinforced by the recent re-appointmentof of 59-year-old Noureddine Bedoui as prime minister of Algeria’s government which remains in place. A former interior minister, the man, who has  been named by the ailing president, is widely described as inflexible and as a pure product of the ‘’system.’’

Bedoui is heading a new government whose list was drawn in all haste  in the hope of promoting  a way out of the political crisis. A list that, however, was not to the taste of the street and political pundits. ‘’April fool!,’’ was the main reaction to the appointment of unknown newcomers in the government who are more likely able to accentuate the current crisis even more, rather than finding the appropriate solutions.

A former minister in the previous government led by Ahmed Ouyahya, who was clearly disappointed not to have been included in the current cabinet, has made revelations on the ‘’hard’’ backstage of this cabinet reshuffle…

“Badly concerned about his image, both official and personal, the new prime minister is suffering more seriously from what could easily be called an exacerbated libido that is the backbone of all his political decisions,” said the former minister.

Is Bedoui, who is a married and has children,  a fickle prime minister who puts in danger the future of the entire Algerian people, like the former minister claims ?

Experts of Algeria also noted that Ramtame Laamamra, the former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, who had been a diplomatic counsellor to president Bouteflika, and was considered to be in a better position  to lead the country in this period of crisis, has been summarily dismissed from the cabinet.

According to the ousted former minister, who is said to be desillusioned by the current situation, Nouredine Bedoui ‘’drafted the list of the current government in the bed with Afaf Belhouchet, a Paris correspondent of the Algerian television channels Canal Algeria and ENTV, who has considerable influence over the prime minister and even suggested him  the names of most of his  cabinet members.’’

The well-connected journalist has considerable influence over the new Algerian prime minister, who has not hesitated to respond to the woman’s solicitation  to add to the   cabinet the son of Algeria’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva who is also  manager of a small communication firm.

A Minister in  the former  Sellal, Tebboune and Ouyahya governments from 2013 to 2019, Nouredine Bedoui, who is dubbed the ‘’Gatsby of Bab el Oued,’’, has forged in Algiers a  reputation as an inveterate philanderer  in the Algerian journalistic milieu, with a special  ‘’weakness’’ for married women.

In his revelations, the former minister also  mentioned the dramatic case of a  young journalist Ahlem Bouzair, working for television channel “El Bilad”. “The young woman threatened to commit suicide after discovering the repeated deceptions of her lover, and learned that he had no intention of marrying her after living more than three years in concubinage,” he said.

So this announcement of his resignation is simply part of the rescue operation for a dying system.”

The formation of the new government doesn’t appear to be a positive sign in the path of real democratic transitios in Algeria. Is it simply part of a ‘’rescue operation’’ for a dying system ?

The European Union, which is AlgerIa’s largest trade partner and has a long-standing partnership with the North African nation in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and an Association Agreement  since 2005, has not been very vocal about the developments in the gas-rich country and key Western ally in the fight against Islamist terrorism.

It should be cautious in its dealings with the new government and strive to help the country become a real democracy.


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