Algerian Parties Grow Impatient As Post-Election Limbo Drags On

Article Summary
Months after the parliamentary elections in Algeria, deadlines for ministerial appointments have come and gone and the government remains semi-operational, writes Atef Kedadra. Opponents accuse President Bouteflika of intentionally extending this suspenseful political drama.

Most of Algeria’s ministers have gone on their annual leave. Given the absence of any signal on the part of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika about the formation of the new government or when it will be announced, this leave, which comes two months after the last legislative elections, may be temporary for some or permanent for others. According to observers, Bouteflika's reticence about his plans for the next stage of Algeria’s political drama is akin to "torture for his partners," who stand by but do not know what his next move will be. In turn, they too have become secretive.

Government sources revealed that President Bouteflika's cabinet has not discussed the new-government matter with any of his "traditional partners" since the parliamentary elections that took place on May 10, 2012. Foremost among these partners is the National Liberation Front (FLN), the winner of the parliamentary majority, and the National Rally for Democracy (RND), whose secretary general, Ahmed Ouyahia, is currently leading the government. Bouteflika usually asks the "presidential alliance" — which includes these two parties and had included the Movement for Society for Peace before it left the coalition before the last election — to make a list of eligible candidates to fill the ministries, should a change in government occur.

Bouteflika has exhausted a number of dates on which government changes are traditionally made following legislative elections. No government changes were decided in the hours that followed the announcement of the FLN’s victory, or after the installation of parliament structures. For nearly two months, seven ministries have been operating by proxy, and this has not satisfied the FLN's desire to control the office of the prime minister.

Journalists are mocking the "ambiguity" surrounding public affairs after the previous elections, which were portrayed as "crucial" and capable of "sparing the country from the scourge of foreign intervention," should they succeed. Saad Bouakba, the famous columnist, said that "the disaster of the last election is that it produced MPs who are neither eligible for parliamentary seats nor ministries because of their level of competence. This is why technocrats are needed! The question is: If we can appoint a government that does not correlate with the results of the elections, then why do we hold these elections at all?”

The FLN is reportedly asking for the prime minister post "secretly," as it was the biggest winner in the parliamentary elections. However, Bouteflika, the honorary president of the party, has not yet announced with whom he is planning to entrust the position. The vagueness surrounding Bouteflika's stance is raising concerns within the RND, whose secretary general Ahmed Ouyahia does not know whether the president of the republic will confirm his current position as prime minister or push him to resign. Bouteflika may be deliberately prolonging the suspense, based on the principle that says “the party that screams first in the silence, loses.”

Found in: national rally for democracy, legislative elections, algerian parliament, algerian elections, algeria, abdelaziz bouteflika

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