Algeria: RND Party Head Resigns

Article Summary
Amid growing political division, the secretary general of Algeria's National Rally for Democracy, Ahmed Ouyahia, announced his resignation. 

The Secretary General of the National Rally for Democracy (RND) Ahmed Ouyahia, delivered a message yesterday [Jan. 3] to his party’s activists, announcing his decision to resign from the party’s leadership as of Jan. 15, 2013. Ouyahia, who took over the post of RND Secretary General in 1999, faced a dismissal attempt in 2002.

RND Secretary General Ahmed Ouyahia submitted his resignation from his post in a letter addressed to the party’s officials and activists, noting that this resignation will be effective as of Jan. 15. In the short message, of which El-Khabar received a copy, Ouyahia said that his resignation from the post of secretary general came after an assessment of the current situation within the party, in reference to internal division. Ouyahia added, “I have honestly explained the reasons behind  my decision to resign” and hoped for “a prompt return to calm, tranquility and unity within the party.” Thus, he has prioritized the RND’s stability over the post.  In his last message as secretary general, Ouyahia recommended that party officials “ensure that all members participate in the National Council’s session, scheduled for Jan. 17.”

The resignation came amidst mounting pressure on him, pushing him to throw in the towel and leave the party’s leadership. This means that the plan to remove him had already been decided, particularly after the “hard line” members of the RND — who are siding with the authority — became the first to demand the ouster of the former prime minister.

According to sources within the RND, this heavy pressure pushed Ouyahia to resign even before the national council session was held. After previously having refused to abandon his post, Ouyahia resigned as he became convinced by envoys that these demands were coming from top circles and were not just desires from within the party.

Ouyahia’s refusal to leave office several weeks ago pushed some of the party’s ministers — such as Cherif Rahmani, Ghulam Allah and Belkacem Mallah, as well as leaders of the trade union confederation and revolutionary organizations — to publicly promote the scenario of overthrowing Ouyahia, after it had previously been limited to conversations in party corridors. However, it is known that Ouyahia is close to influential circles and has always benefited from the support of the military institution. Therefore, how could he not have seen the smoke around him and deciphered the source of messages calling for his removal from the RND leadership? Has Ouyahia lost the support of those who backed him and stood behind him — as he broke records in surviving at the head of the successive governments, while other prime ministers never returned to Dr. Saadane’s palace after being dismissed from the government? Ouyahia was the exception, and presided over the government three times.

The RND’s results in the local and legislative elections, along with the partial renewal of the national assembly, show that Ouyahia’s efforts in the campaign — despite criticism from opponents in the RND salvation front — did not affect the party. This suggests that he still benefits from the support of the top levels, otherwise he would have been forced to step down earlier as a result of the disastrous elections results. Yet, this was not the case. However, it seems that the party’s results in the elections were imposed by the authority’s need for the RND in the first place — to anticipate future political calculations — and have nothing to do with any personal role assumed by Ouyahia.

This further indicates that Ouyahia’s displacement was the product of his attempt to credit himself with these results, inevitably causing his downfall, according to his close associates, in the “personal mistakes” that may have angered those behind his departure. 

Reliable sources said that one of the main catalysts that accelerated his departure is his lack of control over his political ambitions and his obvious desire to rise to the Mouradia palace, which is seen as a violation of the decades long traditions in the process of “president making” in Algeria.

Ouyahia’s statement — in which he said that his presence annoys some within the authorities —  has angered some quarters and was behind the rushed departure. It is true that Ouyahia was pushed away from his post, but as he said, he will always be an activist in the RND and a member of the national council, which gives him the opportunity to remain in the spotlight. Even the way in which he threw in the towel suggests that he has a long journey ahead of him. Ouyahia, a member of the executive branch for 16 consecutive years, during which he assumed various responsibilities, is regarded as the “black box” of many sensitive issues in the regime.

Found in: national rally for democracy, elections, democracy, algerian politics, algeria, ahmed ouyahia

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