Reforms to strengthen democracy in Algeria

ALGIERS. – Algeria’s parliament adopted a package of constitutional reforms yesterday that authorities say will strengthen democracy, but opponents doubt it will bring real change.
The reforms are meant to address long standing public grievances in the North African nation, and possibly to prepare for a smooth transition amid concerns over the health of 78-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The package was passed by 499 votes to two, with 16 abstentions, Senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah said.
A two-term limit on the presidency – lifted in 2008 to allow Bouteflika to run for a third time – will be reintroduced and the president will be required to nominate a prime minister from the largest party in parliament.

The reforms also foresee the creation of an independent electoral commission and recognition of the roles of women and youth. Freedoms of assembly and the press will be explicitly guaranteed.

The Amazigh language spoken by the indigenous Berber population will also be recognised as official, alongside Arabic.
“This project crowns the process of political reforms promised by the head of state,” Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told parliamentarians. – AFP.

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