Algerian President Abdemadjid Tebboune made a reshuffle of his government on Sunday, eagerly awaited but without a major team change in the face of the popular protest movement of Hirak which marks its 2nd anniversary on Monday.
The Prime Minister, Abdelaziz Djerad, however criticized, remains in his post as well as the holders of the royal ministries, according to the list published by the Presidency of the Republic.
The Minister of Energy, Abdelamadjid Attar, in charge of a declining oil rent, and his colleague from Industry, Ferhat Aït Ali, who is paying for his management of the issue of the revival of the automotive industry are starting.
The ministers of Water Resources, Tourism, Environment and Public Works are also leaving the government.
Among the arrivals, with the Tourism portfolio, is Mohamed Ali Boughazi, a former adviser to ousted ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, an appointment that makes people cringe on social networks.
On the other hand, the Minister of Justice, Belkacem Zeghmati, symbol of the fight against corruption but also of the judicial repression against the opposition and the militants of Hirak, keeps his portfolio, just like the Minister of Communication and spokesperson of the Ammar Belhimer government, which retains control over the media.
Among the promoted, with the Tourism portfolio, is Mohamed Ali Boughazi, a former adviser to the deposed ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, an appointment that makes people cringe on social networks.
Before flying to Berlin in early January, to seek treatment for post-Covid “complications”, Mr. Tebboune had however publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the action of the Djerad government.
“This reshuffle will concern sectors which record deficits in their management felt by the citizens and ourselves”, he had then promised.
“Eye powder” –
“Powder in the eyes this reshuffle … It indicates that nothing will change,” responded Sunday a user on Twitter.
“The reshuffle is not my concern, they are the same pawns. It is the same for Parliament, the new (deputies) will work like the current regime for their own interests. They are not working for the people,” said to AFP Zaki Hannache, a 33-year-old activist.
President Tebboune had previously dissolved the National People’s Assembly (APN), the lower house of parliament, paving the way for early parliamentary elections within six months.
Mr. Tebboune “signed a presidential decree dissolving the National People’s Congress”, whose mandate was due to expire in 2022, national television said.
No date has yet been set for the poll. But the political class is counting on the month of June.
According to the Constitution, elections must take place within three months. In the event that these elections cannot be organized before this deadline, the ballot may be extended for a single period of three months.
In a speech to the Nation on Thursday evening, President Tebboune announced the dissolution of the ANP and the organization of local and early legislative elections to face the triple political, economic and health crisis that is shaking Algeria.
He also promised to reshuffle the government “within 48 hours”. A reshuffle that ultimately took longer than expected.
– Hirak’s birthday –
In an attempt to respond to the street, Mr. Tebboune also decreed Thursday a presidential pardon in favor of sixty prisoners of conscience, a gesture of appeasement addressed to the popular protest movement of Hirak.
Since then, nearly 40 prisoners have been released, including the opponent Rachid Nekkaz and the journalist Khaled Drareni, who has become a symbol of the fight for press freedom.
But despite the head of state’s speech, calls to demonstrate Monday across the country, especially in Algiers, for the Hirak’s anniversary, are circulating on social networks, after several rallies in the provinces this week.
The Hirak had to suspend its weekly demonstrations in March due to the coronavirus epidemic.
On Sunday, several hundred demonstrators gathered in Paris to call among other things for the release of all prisoners of conscience and to demand a “radical change” in the system.
Launched on February 22, 2019, the Hirak – an unprecedented popular protest movement in Algeria – had pushed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for two decades, to resign two months later.
French President Emmanuel Macron “welcomed the amnesty” of the prisoners of conscience and gave “his support for the implementation of the reforms underway” in Algeria, according to an Elysee statement on Sunday.
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