Algeria's Ruling Party Still Divided

Article Summary
Algeria’s National Liberation Front continues to struggle with its internal rift as the date for elections draws ever nearer.

Is the National Liberation Front (FLN) heading for division? Will the party be divided into two wings, each with its own  secretary-general claiming to be more legitimate than the other?

Who is to blame for this situation, especially in light of the upcoming FLN Central Committee session, which will take place on Aug. 29-30? This is not to mention that some of the party’s members are insisting on holding the session in the Aurassi Hotel, while others chose the Hotel Er-Riadh.

For many of the FLN activists, this “achievement” is due to the party’s honorary president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Abdul Rahman Belayat, one of FLN’s veterans, warned a few months ago that the current circumstances surrounding the party “do not encourage electing a secretary-general who enjoys the necessary legitimacy.” He advised against holding another session of the Central Committee, “which may deepen the rift within the party, as both camps are still not ready to compromise.”

Nevertheless, his warning fell on deaf ears, for the Ministry of Interior granted permission to Ahmed Bomahdi’s group to hold the session. This caused a legal problem for the FLN’s political bureau, headed by Belayat, and for the FLN Corrective Movement headed by its general coordinator, Abdul Karim Abada, who clung to Article 9 of the party’s protocol, stipulating that the eldest member of the political office shall be entitled to call for the session to be held.

Moreover, the enemy brothers not only disagreed on who will succeed Abdul Aziz Belkhadem as the party’s secretary-general, who failed to win a vote of confidence during the January session, but also on the venue for the upcoming session of the Central Committee.

While Boumahdi’s group is demanding that the session be held in the Aurassi Hotel, Belayet’s group — backed by Abada’s movement — insists on holding it in Hotel Er-Riadh.

Although President Bouteflika is the FLN’s honorary head, he did not issue any official decision about the situation within the party. Nevertheless, the acceleration of events, and the interference of the Ministry of Interior between the FLN’s two camps indicated that the president was “behind” these measures.

Further, it has been rumored that Bouteflika’s brother has recommended Amar Saadani as the new FLN secretary-general, which is further proof that the president is involved in on one way or another in exacerbating the situation within the party. Although this suggestion could result in new interim leadership for the party, until the next conference is held in March 2015, it will remain illegitimate governance, threatened with corrective measures at any time.

As a response to these claims, Tabani Nazir, the Corrective Movement coordinator in the M’sila province, issued a statement saying, “This is an abhorrent and flagrant conspiracy by those who are trying to implicate the president of the republic in the party’s rift and to bury the FLN.”

The statement called upon the Central Committee members “not to take part in any step that would have dire consequence on the party, because history is ruthless and does not forget.”

Moreover, the statement condemned “what has become of the FLN, especially the random behavior of Boumahdi’s group, which seeks to impose a particular person (Saadani) as the FLN secretary-general, who is rejected by all the honest and honorable FLN activists.”

In a statement, of which El-Khabar secured a copy, the Corrective Movement in the M’sila province, said it would “support of the decision by the national leadership of the Corrective Movement led by Abada.”

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