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Algeria: New bill requires president to hold university degree

September 12, 2019 at 1:31 am

Protesters in Algeria hold an Algerian flag on 26 February 2019. [Farouk Batiche/Anadolu Agency]

Algerian Minister of Justice Belkacem Zeghmati presented a bill, Wednesday, that would require anyone wishing to run for president to have a university degree or its equivalent.

This came during the presentation of the draft laws on the organisation of elections before the deputies of the National People’s Assembly.

“The candidate’s file must include a university degree or its equivalent,” he said.

This bill is one of the most prominent amendments proposed by the mediation and dialogue team regarding the draft law amending the election law of 2016.

In the past, a presidential candidate was not required to have achieved any particular academic level in accordance with Article 139 of the election law.

The most critical conditions focused on the candidate’s and his/her family’s position vis à vis the Algerian liberation revolution, non-acquisition of foreign nationality and the ten-year stay in the country before the presidential term.

One of the most prominent amendments reviewed by the Minister of Justice before the parliament deputies were that “candidates submit their candidacy files in person to the president of the independent national authority of elections.” This means the physical presence of the person concerned to deposit the file is required.

Previously, the law did not explicitly stipulate the candidate’s submission of the file personally to the Constitutional Council (Constitutional Court).

This sparked popular and legal controversy when Abdelghani Zaalan (then-campaign manager) submitted Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term to the Constitutional Council on 3 March, due to the deteriorating health of the candidate.

Read: Algerians alert following news of PM’s imminent resignation

One of the most notable changes is entrusting an independent national authority of elections to organise the electoral process from the start until the preliminary results are announced,” Zeghmati said.

He added: “Under this provision, (draft law) all the powers of the public authorities, i.e. the administrative authorities of the electoral process, have been transferred to this authority.”

Zeghmati also indicated that “the government and the governors and mayors will be excluded from the electoral process and local committees subordinated to the independent national authority of election will be formed.”

The powers of the Constitutional Council about the organisation of elections will be withdrawn. Thus, the Council will be transformed into an appeal body to receive challenged candidates’ file and will only announce the final results of the elections.

After its approval by the People’s Assembly, the draft law will be presented to the Second Chamber (the Council of the Nation) on Friday. After its approval within a week, the law will enter into force.