By Hana Saada

Would Algerian PM Bedoui resign, paving way for vote?

September 21, 2019

ALGERIA - Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui will soon step down paving the way for the holding of the presidential elections, postponed by the Government on July 4, citing the lack of candidates amid ongoing protests against the current government.

The resignation is a development that would mark a major win for protestors who are piling into the streets every week, calling for the departure of the remnants of the old guard, including the Prime Minister Bedoui, and the prosecution of the corrupted officials and oligarchs.

Earlier, and after weeks of demonstrations, protesters were able to force, in April,  the long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down after two decades in power, a major win that was unthinkable two months earlier.

Protests demanding an overhaul of the ruling regime are showing no sign of waning despite the April resignation of veteran leader Bouteflika and the launch of anti corruption onslaught targeting former and current senior officials. These claims have been endorsed by Army Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah who urged magistrates and judges to act bravely while launching anti-corruption probes against politicians and businessmen who embezzled public funds.

Following Bouteflika resignation, the Upper House Speaker Abdelkader Bensalah assumed the post of Head of State in application of the provisions of the Algerian Constitution. One of his first actions was to call the country's postponed presidential election for July 4, However, this announcement failed to quell protesters, with thousands taking to the streets of the capital, Algiers, to call for a complete political overhaul and boycott of the election. Effectively, this election was latter scrapped, citing the lack of candidates.

Demonstrators have repeatedly demanded the departure of a coterie of individuals closely-linked to Bouteflika's administration, including the Prime Minister Bedoui, who was appointed by Bouteflika days before he stepped down, before the holding of any election. This claim is advocated by the Mediation and Dialogue Panel set by the interim president Bensalah to oversee a national dialogue, consult, communicate and hold talks with civil society actors, political parties, national figures, young people and activists from all over the country in order to develop a clear vision of ways to end the country’s months of political crisis and enable it to hold Presidential Elections as soon as possible. The Panel, in its final report submitted to the Head of State, following consultation with 5670 associations of different categories within two months, during which they met with various spectrums and components of society, called for the formation of a high electoral commission and amendments to the election law in an attempt to distance the authorities from the organization of the elections. It called, also, for the departure of Prime Minister Bedoui as the only solution to convince protesters to return to the poll ballot.

The handover of the Panel's proposals comes days after Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ahmad Qaid Saleh called for presidential elections before the end of 2019. A call adhered by the Head of State who inked, this week, a decree convening the electorate on September 15 so that elections could be held within 90 days (on December 12), in addition to two Organic Laws; the first one  on the Independent National Authority in Charge of Elections and the second one amending and supplementing Organic Law 16-10 dated August 25, 2016 on the electoral system.

"Today, based on our mission, mandate and respect for the constitution and the laws of the Republic, we find it best to summon the Electoral Commission on 15 September," Salah said, as reported by the official news agency APS.

"I have decided... that the date of the presidential election will be Thursday, December 12," said Bensalah, following army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah announcement.

Opposition parties, for their part, are still calling for deep political reforms to avoid electing a new president with the same mechanisms that allowed Bouteflika to remain in power for 20 years, stressing on the need to dismiss the current government of Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, appointed by Bouteflika before his departure, seen as a continuity with the old system.

In this sense, Talaïe El Houriet party considered that the institutional and legal conditions for the organization of an inclusive and transparent presidential election were brought together; however, the Government must resign and be replaced by a Government of national competences. This dismissal, according to them, would create the appropriate environment to guarantee a strong participation during the next presidential election to give the next president sufficient legitimacy to launch political, economic and social reforms.

The resignation of Noureddine Bedoui would ease the political deadlock, speed up the election process and calm down protesters determined to achieve their claims at any costs.

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