Former Muslim Brother's Party Getting Behind Algerian President

Article Summary
Amar Ghoul, a recent defector from Algeria’s wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, is promoting his new political alliance, the Rally for Algeria’s Hope. He's hinted he is interested in joining the new government, if or when it is formed. Will Ghoul’s attempts to rally Algerians around his party succeed? Atef Kedadra reports.

Amar Ghoul — head of the founding body of the Rally for Algeria's Hope (TAJ), who recently defected from the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood — has hinted at the possibility of his joining the new government by repeatedly declaring that he is seeking to “serve his country.” At the preparatory seminar of the constituent assembly, Ghoul indicated that his party will support President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's program, refusing to categorize or associate the TAJ with the Islamist movement or its policies.

In the preparatory seminar of the TAJ constituent assembly, Ghoul — former minister of public works, and former leader of Algeria’s Muslim Brotherhood — was keen to highlight the influence of his partisan project, although it was various parties in power that prompted him to establish the TAJ. He said: “Many questions are being raised about who we are and what we want? Who is behind us? Who is on our right? who is on our left?” He said that his party derives its strength and legitimacy from the people and various political currents, even including state institutions.

Ghoul addressed the MSP leaders — who described Ghoul as “the regime’s mole in the movement” — saying: “We believe in democracy as a concept, culture, conviction and behavior … away from the culture of monopoly and contempt.” He added: “We do not have enemies or opponents neither at home nor abroad. We recognize that there are disagreements among political groups, and seek to prevent these disagreements from turning into disputes.”

The former minister repeatedly declared his support for President Bouteflika, indicating his willingness to join the presidential alliance from which his party had previously withdrawn. The presidential alliance currently includes the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Rally for Democracy (RND). Ghoul thanked and praised Bouteflika, stressing the need to preserve “national reconciliation” and pass it on to future generations. He added: “This project must continue so that destruction will not return.”

Ghoul outlined the main principles of his party. The party is based on eight principles, which are necessary to create good citizens, form a cohesive society and to complete the establishment of a just state based on the rule of law, by building an administration that facilitates rather than disrupts the affairs of the Algerian people, and meets their demands. One of the party’s key principles is to build a strong, non-bureaucratic, non-centralized national economy, which provides job opportunities and guarantees social justice. The party seeks to provide fair and just development to all areas of the country, and job opportunities and promotions for all citizens without discrimination. It also aims to restore the [recruitment] scale — saying “each will hold his appropriate post” — consolidate Algeria’s international position, enhance its regional role and support the Palestinian cause.”

Ghoul stressed that his political formation does not only include groups of an Islamic character, but will comprise all political actors such as the national, Islamic and democratic movements. The seminar, which precedes the constituent assembly, was attended by leaders from different currents, including resigned MSP figures like Mohammad Jumaa and Hajj Hamou Maghariah, and MSP deputies Abdel Halim Abdel Wahab, Naima Madjer — sister of  famous Algerian [soccer] player Rabah Madjer — former MP Bin Mudakhan, former and current leaders in the Muslim Scouts, and businessmen from the Algerian Confederation of Employers.

If the TAJ runs in the upcoming local elections, its beginning would be similar to that of the RND in 1997, which achieved a parliamentary majority two months after its inception, after the ruling elites had questioned its political role.

Ghoul’s party semi-officially possesses a ready “parliamentary bloc” consisting of MPs who have defected from his former party, as well as MPs from the Islamist Green Algeria Alliance under which Ghoul ran for parliament. The Green Algeria Alliance consists of three Islamist parties: the Movement of Society for Peace (Hamas), the Islamic Renaissance Movement (Ennahda) and the Movement for National Reform (Islah).

Ghoul’s new political group has created divisions between student groups at universities and popular organizations, because of disagreements between TAJ followers and MSP activists. A student group close to the Muslim Brotherhood denied having joined TAJ. The executive office of the National Union of Algerian Students (UNEA) denied statements that were attributed to it — in relation to a “debate” between Ghoul and his former party over the resigned leaders and groups supporting these leaders — saying the remarks were made by unknown persons who are not members of the group.

Found in: algerian politics, algerian elections, algeria

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