Al-Arabi Ould Khalifa, speaker of the Algerian National People’s Assembly, announced yesterday [Sept. 17] his opposition to holding demonstrations against the United States. He called for self-restraint and caution in reacting to the film that insults the Prophet Muhammad.
At the conclusion of a debate organized by the assembly yesterday on the occasion of International Day of Democracy, Ould Khalifa responded to a proposal made by a deputy calling for issuing a [formal] condemnation of the film “Innocence of Muslims.”
He said: “There are questions being raised about the recent events, which involved demonstrations and the assassination of the US ambassador [Christopher Stevens], and the date — Sept. 11 — which they chose to target the US consulate in Libya. This date marks the anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington 11 years ago.
“The questions also deal with how they had easy access to the ambassador, who was killed in a rocket attack attributed to al-Qaeda. This is especially suspicious given that it is known that wherever there is an ambassador, Blackwater — a military security company that provides protection to US companies and diplomatic interests abroad — would be protecting him.
"I used to be an ambassador, and I know these things,” he added. “Our neighbors (Morocco) are conducting a strategic dialogue with the United States and have not uttered a word about it. Thus, we have no right to engage in all of this.”
Here he was referring to the demonstrations being held and the targeting of US interests in Algeria.
Morocco and the United States signed an agreement in Washington last Thursday [Sept.13] in order to form a working group tasked with developing ways to enhance the relationship between the two countries. There will be working groups in the fields of politics and security, a third for trade and the economy and a fourth for cultural, scientific and technical cooperation.
In his inaugural speech, Ould Khalifa stressed that "there is no complete or final democratic model that is subject to cloning," and that “each country has the right to choose its political system based on its historical experience, cultural characteristics and priorities in nation building.”
He continued: "The deep and comprehensive reforms initiated by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resulted in the success of the legislative elections held in May 10 and the disappointment of many who had predicted the contagion of the so-called Arab Spring revolutions."
In this regard, Ould Khalifa remarked: “The recent events in the region have shown the maturity of the Algerian people and their ability to distinguish between precious metals and glossy ones. These events did not produce concrete results, since the Arab Spring in some of these countries has turned into storms portending that the status quo might not be better than the past, if not worse."
Ould Khalifa repeated official discourse that rejected Western countries giving lessons in democracy to our country. Here he meant France without specifically naming it.
He said: "Political circles across the sea have no right to appoint themselves as teachers who are keen on democracy and human rights in our country, since their histories do not qualify them to fill that role.”
He added that Western countries have transformed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 to a mere facade that is widely violated whenever they needed to preserve their own interests. He also talked about the prospective draft constitution, which is expected to strengthen the relationship between the three authorities of the state with its citizens, and would strive to protect citizens’ rights at home.
Ould Khalifa stressed the need for the deputies to fulfill their obligations toward voters. He noted that during the electoral campaign he discovered that many deputies had detached themselves after the elections from those who voted for them.
During the parliamentary session, parliamentarians and academics called for reviewing the texts governing the work of parliament regarding its right to interfere in domestic issues, especially the constitutional articles and provisions of the rules of procedure of the National People's Assembly.