Algerian Parliament Plays Tug-of-War

Article Summary
The Algerian National Assembly is embroiled in a confrontation between the majority and opposition parties, writes Atef Kedadra, with the latter calling for a revision of internal law and the adoption of a parliamentary consensus. Meanwhile, several Members of Parliament abstained from voting in parliamentary sessions.

A new game of tug-of-war is being played between three parties in the Algerian opposition and the ruling majority [the National Liberation Front (FLN)] over the structure of the new parliament following the recent elections. MPs from the Green Algerian Alliance (GAA) and Socialist Forces Front (SFF) abstained from voting in the parliament’s first session, which was set to redistribute seats in the National Assembly [and decide on structural appointments within the parliament].

The dissenting parties argued that the ruling majority “failed to conduct a thorough census of all eligible voters” [in the parliamentary session]. These parties described the situation as “abnormal” and challenged all resolutions subsequently brought to a vote within the National Assembly. Labor Party MPs attended the session but abstained from voting on the proposed structure of the new parliament.

Speaker Mohamed Al-Arabi Ould Khalifa confirmed the structure of the parliament in spite of the difficulties that he encountered in his search for an “agreement” between those parties who won enough seats in the elections to give them the right to form parliamentary groups. The FLN was given control over the committees for justice, foreign affairs, economic affairs, finance, culture, higher education and agriculture. Through their being awarded six committee vice presidencies and six parliamentary rapporteur positions, the FLN expanded its supremacy.

The National Democratic Front (FND) won two seats as vice-presidents and was entrusted with three committees related to Culture, Youth and Sports and National Defense. The Housing and Accommodation Committee returned under the control of the National Liberation Front, in addition to one other vice presidency.

MPs from the three parties who abstained from voting, did not block the majority's decision to approve the elected. The three dissenting parties approved of all of the vice presidents who make up the bureau, in addition to the president and the representatives from five commission. approving the two elected vice-presidents and the president.

In an official statement, GAA MPs called on the National Assembly to review its internal regulations and to abide by principles of parliamentary accord, a necessary and urgent move that may allow the constitutional body to be given credibility again.

After threatening to boycott the voting session, the GAA — which includes the Movement of Society for Peace, Islamic Renaissance Movement (Ennahda) and the Movement for National Reform (Islah) — called for “the establishment of a parliamentary committee for human rights, civil society promotion, public funds protection and corruption prevention.”

The GAA confirmed that an open dialogue about socio-economic policies is necessary to determine the real reasons behind “the political recession and social congestion” in the country. According to the GAA, the country’s current situation is reminiscent of the former era (before December 11, 2011), which witnessed protests and rallies that paved the way for political changes, and were later approved by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, but did not meet the expectations of the Algerian people.

Found in: algerian parliament, algerian national assembly, mohamed walad al-arabi, national liberation front, green algerian alliance, fln

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