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Bouteflika’s party fails to elect new Secretary-General

Thousands of students, doctors and civil servants stage a protest to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step from power, in front of Central Post Office Square in Algiers, Algeria on March 19, 2019 [Farouk Batiche / Anadolu Agency]
Thousands of students, doctors and civil servants stage a protest to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step from power, in front of Central Post Office Square in Algiers, Algeria on 19 March 2019 [Farouk Batiche / Anadolu Agency]

Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), led by ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has failed to elect a new Secretary-General to replace Jamal Ould Abbas, whose resignation was announced months ago, Anadolu has reported. According to Slim Qirat, a member of the party’s Central Committee which held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday in Algiers, the work of the special session was postponed to a later date which has not been determined.

The meeting in the Algerian capital apparently witnessed several verbal clashes arising from the objection of participants about the composition of the Nominations Committee. The Central Committee members agreed unanimously that the members of the nominations group should be elected “because the time of appointment and sponsorship by power is over,” explained Qirat.

For weeks, FLN Central Committee members have held meetings calling for the departure of the “illegitimate” interim leadership and the election of a new Secretary-General. “Upon the resignation of the Secretary-General,” says the party’s Basic Law, “the Central Committee shall hold a special session, chaired by the oldest member, and a new Secretary-General shall be elected by secret ballot or by raising hands.” The Basic Law also stipulates that candidates wishing to run for the post of Secretary-General must have completed “ten years of work in the party without interruption and should not have been involved in activity with other parties earlier.”

READ: Algerians protest demanding the departure of Bouteflika allies

Eleven senior FLN officials have submitted their names for the post. Most notable among them are the former Chairman of the People’s Assembly (Lower Chamber of Parliament), Said Buhadja; the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament, Abdul Majid Si Afif; and two members of the Central Committee, Saeed Badida and Mustapha Maazouzi. Senator Fouad Sebouta withdrew from the race due to the clashes in the meeting.

At the end of last November, Bouteflika appointed Mouad Bouchareb as interim general coordinator for the party following the sudden resignation of Ould Abbas. Bouchareb has since been leading a temporary governing body of 23 members, mostly former ministers, including former Justice Minister Tayeb Louh and the Secretary-General of the presidency, Habba Al-Aqbi, who are affiliated to Bouteflika.

Ould Abbas, a Senator and Vice-President of the Council of the Nation, faces legal problems. The Algerian judiciary has submitted an official request to parliament to lift his immunity so that he can be investigated on suspicion of poor financial management in the Ministry of National Solidarity, which he ran between 2010 and 2012.

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