First Published: 2006-05-25

 
Algeria’s new PM to revise constitution, hike pay
 

Ouyahia resigns after his intransigence in face of repeated strikes by teachers, vets, doctors, workers.

 

Middle East Online

Back to government

ALGIERS - Algeria's new Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem has promised constitutional reform and an increase in public workers' salaries after he was appointed on Wednesday night.

Belkhadem was quoted in press reports on Thursday saying a "revision" of the constitution and a long call for increase in pay for public sector workers would be his priorities.

The presidential office announced last night that Belkhadem, 61, a confidant of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, would replace Ahmed Ouyahia as prime minister.

Daily newspaper Le Jeune Independant said Thursday that Ouyahia, who resigned on Wednesday night, had been scuppered by his own opposition to an increase in public salaries.

His resignation came after thousands of workers in the industrial area of Rouiba, 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Algiers, demonstrated on Wednesday to demand a pay rise and Ouyahia's departure.

The former president had become highly unpopular since he came out against the general salary increase proposed by the unions and supported by the FNL, led by Belkhadem, in January.

Ouyahia's unpopularity was exacerbated by his intransigence in the face of repeated strikes by teachers, vets, doctors, and by workers who claimed their jobs were threatened by the privatisation of public sector organisations, which the former prime minister was determined to push through.

Ouyahia is secretary general of the National Democratic Rally (RND), one of the parties in the governing coalition, which also includes the dominant National Liberation Front (FNL) and the Islamist Movement of a Peaceful Society (MSP).

However, several newspapers said Belkhadem would face problems if he did not keep his promise.

"The nomination of Abdelaziz Belkhadem, who has little experience of economic affairs, could lead to disenchantment," the El Watan newspaper predicted.

Belkhadem, foreign minister from August 2000 to May 2005, had also opposed Ouyahia's plan to make a declaration of general policy to parliament, as laid down by the constitution.

Ouyahia and Belkhadem also clashed over plans to revise the constitution, increasing the number of presidential terms from the present two to three, with Ouyahia against the scheme.

After resigning, Ouyahia told reporters that he had thanked Bouteflika for the "confidence shown and the total support given during these three years".

He had previously been prime minister from December 1995 to December 1998 under the presidency of Liamine Zeroual.

In 1992, shortly after the FLN had agreed to allow the first multi-party elections since independence from France in 1962, Algeria plunged into a disastrous civil war. It was sparked by the military-backed government's decision to cancel elections that an Islamic party, the FIS, had been poised to win.

The decision sparked almost a decade of appalling bloodletting, during which Islamic extremists carried out attacks on both the military and civilians, amid allegations of major human rights abuses on both sides.

An estimated 150,000 people died and even today violence continues, although at a much lower level.

After being elected president in 1999, Bouteflika was widely praised for helping to bring the conflict to an almost complete end.

He notably organised a referendum in September of that year to bring in a "civil reconciliation" plan, under which guerrillas who had not carried out atrocities could benefit from an amnesty.

Under his presidency, Algeria also began a return to the world stage, notably via pan-African diplomacy.

 

Iraq forces look to build floating bridge in Mosul

Erdogan ‘not welcome’ to campaign in Austria

Israel bombs Gaza after rocket attack

Ailing Bouteflika 'doing well' despite health scare

Film on Syria's White Helmets wins Academy Award

Libya PM to visit Moscow seeking better ties

Conditions in Libya driving migration to Europe

Is Jordan signalling a shift in its Syria strategy?

11 killed in Syria regime raids

Polisario dismisses Rabat pullback from contested zone

Israeli checkpoint guards shoot Palestinian woman

Saudi Aramco to invest $7 billion in Malaysia oil refinery

Referendum set to be tight race for Turkey’s Erdogan

Cyber attacks in Gulf countries on the rise

Iraqi forces reach key Mosul bridge

UN urges negotiating Syria rivals to avoid insults

EU border agency says migrant rescues encourage traffickers

Israeli officials brace for Gaza war report

Key Egyptian legislator says poverty more dangerous than terrorism

UN chief says disregard for rights 'spreading'

GCC geopolitics spike military sales at IDEX

ISIS has brought Saudi Arabia and the United States closer

Morocco to withdraw from Western Sahara tension zone

Shia leadership struggle ahead after Khamenei and Sistani

The huge risks of Trump’s call to ‘take’ Iraqi oil

Trump set to zero in on Hezbollah in bid to curb Iran

Time bomb of unemployment among Arab youth

Push on IS capital Raqqa gathers momentum

Woman journalist says targeted by hardliners in Sudan

Iran's Ahmadinejad writes open letter to Trump

Iran's Rouhani to run for re-election

Kurdish reporter killed while covering Mosul battle

Libya govt secures ceasefire after Tripoli clashes

Boosting presidental powers will 'stabilise' Turkey, says PM

Saudi Foreign Minister in landmark visit to Iraq

Iraqi forces push deeper into west Mosul

Suicide attacks kill 42 in Syria's Homs

Top US commander in secret Syria trip

Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas for being ‘biased’

UN considers Syria sanctions over chemical attacks

Saudi Comic-Con slammed as ‘sin’ in online backlash

Jordanians protest government price hikes

Baghdad coordinated anti-IS airstrikes with Damascus says source

New Hamas Gaza leader makes first public appearance

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank