Algeria’s newly-appointed prime minister has started talks to form a new government, state media reported yesterday, in a move designed to placate protesters demanding President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika and his inner circle step down.
The discussions began as some workers at Algeria’s biggest gas field staged a protest against “extending the fourth term”, an energy official said, referring to a proposal by Bouteflika to stay in office until a new constitution is adopted.
Output at the Hassi Rmel field was not affected, said the official from state oil and gas company Sonatrach. He described the protests as “minor”, but such politically-motivated action suggests Algeria’s reform push has won some influence inside an enterprise that is the north African country’s main economic pillar.
However Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui is unlikely to defuse anger on the streets simply by starting talks on a new administration. “The new government will fall in 24 hours as long as it lacks legitimacy and popular support,” said Fodil Boumala, one of the people protesters have chosen to spearhead popular pressure against what they see as an authoritarian system.
Algerians, who have been demonstrating for over three weeks, have rejected overtures by Bouteflika, who has reversed a decision to stand for another term after 20 years in power.
Bouteflika stopped short of relinquishing office and said he would stay on until a new constitution is adopted, in effect extending his fourth term in office, meaning he will likely remain in power for some time.
State news agency APS reported that the new cabinet would include experts without political affiliation and will “reflect the demographics of the Algerian society”. The aim is to “show willingness to establish a government of great openness”, APS quoted an official source as saying.