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Algerian trade unions refuse formation of new government and insist on Bouteflika’s departure

March 19, 2019 at 4:53 am

Algerians protest against candidacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a 5th term in Algiers, Algeria on 4 March 2019 [Farouk Batiche/Anadolu Agency]

Thirteen independent trade unions in Algeria have refused to support the efforts of newly-appointed Prime Minister Noureddine Badawi to form a government he hopes will help pacify protesters who are pressing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his inner circle to step down.

Boualem Amoura, one of the leaders of the education sector unions, stated that the trade unions would not hold discussions with the government as their members consider themselves as part of the Algerian people who said “no” to the regime.

Badawi pledged to form a comprehensive government of technocrats, in a country dominated by veteran soldiers who fought in the Algerian War of Independence, from 1954 to 1962 as well as military officials and people in business. Thus, the trade union leaders announced that they had refused to engage in a dialogue with the prime minister when he asked them to.

READ: Muslim Brotherhood demands that Bouteflika step down

Meanwhile, an official in the Algerian Foreign Ministry said that Ramtane Lamamra, newly appointed deputy prime minister, is expected to visit several countries, including Russia and China, in addition to some EU countries to explain the situation in Algeria.

Protesting for more than three weeks, Algerians, have rejected initiatives by Bouteflika who has decided to step down from running for a new term after 20 years in power.

An official in the energy sector indicated that workers in the country’s largest natural gas field went on a strike on Sunday to protest against the extension of Bouteflika’s fourth mandate, about the president’s proposal to stay in office until a new constitution is passed.

An official at the state energy company Sonatrach asserted that gas production at Hassi Al-Raml field had not been affected.

Since his return from a medical trip to Switzerland, Bouteflika, 82, has lost some of his allies in the past few days, including senior members of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN).

Protests in Algeria have been mostly peaceful and the army, which has not intervened, is expected to continue playing its influential role behind the curtains.

Algeria is an important supplier of gas to Europe, especially Italy, Spain and France. Several foreign companies operate in the country, including BP, Total and Repsol.

In the 1990s, gas production did not stop at Hassi Al-Raml field, despite the chaotic situation in Algeria during clashes between security forces and armed fighters.