Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia called on the Algerian people to use the ballot box to topple the regime which has ruled the country since 1962, not what he called “foreign conspiracies.”
On May 6, Ouyahia, secretary- general of the National Rally for Democracy party, addressed an election rally held by his party in the province of Tipaza, in the northwest of the country. He has been campaigning for the elections, which are scheduled for May 10. He called on Algerians to topple the regime through the ballot box, and asked them to reject the foreign agendas being implemented under the guise of an Arab revolution.
Libyan officials, for their part, denounced Ouyahia’s statements which described the Arab Spring as a flood sweeping Iraq and Libya, destroying Sudan and weakening Egypt.
In a related development, public prosecutors from the Al-Wadi district in southeastern Algeria sentenced a Yemeni Salafist sheikh to two years in prison for issuing a fatwa banning the elections in that district. This was seen as incitement to boycott the upcoming legislative elections. Ouyahia’s statements represent the first time that an Algerian prime minister has called for ousting the regime while still in office.
As he made references to the tide of events sweeping over the Arab region, Ouyahia warned Algerians that the Arab Spring did not produce anything but chaos, divisions and a lack of security.
The Prime Minister also expressed his concerns about possible repercussions emanating from the situation neighboring Mali, where the province of Azawad declared independence in an attempt to secede from the central state. He added that the Arab revolutions are targeting Algeria through the support of internal parties who seek to overthrow the regime through revolution, as opposed to working for change through the ballot box.
Former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has stated that the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 10 will be “historic and decisive.”
The Algerian opposition has warned of the devastating consequences that would result from any attempts to rig the elections. The opposition reminded the regime of the revolutions that shook the thrones of its regional Arab counterparts.
The Algerian government has claimed that the elections it is planning will be free and fair, and has warned officials responsible for the election process that any attempted fraud would be punished with imprisonment.
The Libyan Foreign Ministry summoned the Algerian Ambassador to Tripoli, denouncing Ouyahia’s statements and demanding explanations from the Algerian government.
It is worth noting that Algerian-Libyan relations cooled to a lukewarm level following the Libyan uprising against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Libyan officials were accused alongside Algerians of helping Qaddafi’s regime in the war he allegedly waged against the Libyan people.
Moreover, Libyans have reprimanded Algerians for hosting Qaddafi’s family members who fled Libya before the fall of the capital Tripoli, especially after Aisha Qaddafi started to incite Libyans against the new leaders of the country. However, relations between the two countries returned to normal when the president of the Libyan Transitional National Council Mustafa Abdul Jalil visited Algeria, after officials there pledged not to allow Qaddafi’s family to carry out any hostile activity against Libya.