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.

 

Arab coalition adopts two-pronged strategy to resolve Yemen conflict

Sudan president reelected with more than 94% of vote

Sudan accuses UNAMID of killing civilians in Darfur

Israel invites tenders for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes

Syrian rock bands finding safety in Lebanon

Gulf foreign ministers set to meet with focus on Yemen war

Iran leads NAM calls for Israel to give up nuclear weapons

UN: Israeli actions killed 44 Palestinians at UN shelters

Journalists face ‘deadliest period’ in recent history

Leading member of Syria ‘tolerated’ opposition escapes to Spain

‘Islamic State’ stones two men to death in Iraq

Coalition strikes continue as bread, medicine run short in Yemen

Guantanamo ex-inmates demand compensation from US

Novelists withdraw from NY gala in Charlie Hebdo protest

Islamist rebels overrun army base in Syria Idlib province

Iraq forces suffer heavy losses in battle of Ramadi

In new provocation, Iran Guards chief likens Saudi Arabia to Israel

Israel charges soldiers for theft in Gaza war

First Saudi National Guards deployed on Yemen border zone

Sudan to unveil election results

Turkey rounds up 350 migrants en route to Europe

Iraq army announces ‘progress’ in Anbar province

Will Somalia Shebab choose Qaeda or Islamic State?

Abbas condemns Israel killing of two young Palestinians in separate incidents

Civilian massacre in Syria northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur

New UN envoy looks to revive talks as battles intensify across Yemen

‘Islamic State’ suicide bombers target Iraq-Jordan crossing

Four Egypt Islamists killed while preparing bombs

Extremist groups capture last major regime holdout in northwest Syria

‘Islamic State’ kills Iraq senior officers in Anbar province

Deadly fighting rages in Yemen southern towns

Entrepreneurs encourage people to ‘buy Syrian’

Over 100 children killed in Yemen since March 26

Libya militia alliance 'carries out air raids' against IS

UN 'confident' rebels will sign Mali peace deal

Petraeus gets two years probation for info leak

Iranian ships turn back from Yemen

Palestinians mourn as Jews celebrate

UN chief set to appoint Mauritanian diplomat as Yemen envoy

Obama takes 'full responsibility' for deaths of Qaeda hostages in US operation

Turkey warns Austria over decision to condemn ‘Armenian genocide’

Yemen conflict poses dangers across Gulf of Aden

Hopes for final deal on second day of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna

Security tightened at Saudi shopping malls

US returns stolen Egypt artifacts