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Algeria: Largest Islamist party voices concerns over draft constitutional amendment

Abderrazak Makri, Movement of Society for Peace (MSP)'s general secretary, speaks during a press conference with the leader of the Algerian Front for Change (FC) party in Algiers on May 6, 2017 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images]
Abderrazak Makri, Movement of Society for Peace (MSP)'s general secretary, speaks during a press conference with the leader of the Algerian Front for Change (FC) party in Algiers on May 6, 2017 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images]

Algeria’s Movement of the Society of Peace has outlined reservations it has over amendments being discussed on the draft constitution.

In an article on its website, the party’s head, Abderrazak Makri, wrote that “a new reading in many of the texts proposed in the constitutional amendment draft” is due because of reservations officials have about it.

The article, titled “For whose benefit was the draft constitution written?”, outlined issues which Makri said caused his party alarm including: “Amplifying the powers of the President of the Republic in accordance with Articles 95 and 96, and depriving any undesirable parliamentary majority.”

The second reservation listed was: “Facilitating the removal of the president in a guaranteed, undemocratic manner, by creating the position of vice president.”

According to Article 98, paragraph 7, the Vice President inherits all the jurisdictions of the president in case of a vacancy in his position. Additionally, the Vice President may belong to one of the minor political currents that never win the elections, said Makri.

READ: Algeria arrests 3 Hirak activists 

The army’s mandate, he continued, is also being changed with a ban on its participation in military operations abroad being lifted for the first time.

“This is a typical decision aimed to protect the country’s interests outside its borders … but it might lead to changing the army’s doctrine if the system ends up in a state of total weakness, due to economic crises that might transform the armed forces into a functional body serving the interests of colonialism and its foreign policy.”

Makri also highlighted plans to delete the word “society” from Article 72 of the current constitution in an effort to negate society’s responsibility for the protection of the family and children and only provide for state responsibility in this area.

This, he explained, is part of “a colonial policy aimed at dismantling the Algerian family by preventing society from protecting itself on its own in cooperation with the state or in the event that official institutions give up protecting the family or engage in the task of dismantling family values in response to foreign agendas.”

Other terms being changed, the head of the country’s largest Islamic party said, aim to destroy the country’s values and principles by damaging the education system. This will stop Algerians being “in harmony with their identity”, he warned.

Algerian President, Abdelmajid Tebboune, has confirmed in previous statements that the draft amendment is open for “omission and enrichment” and that the final version, which will be set after receiving the proposals of the political parties, will be “consensual”.

Two days ago, Mohammed Laqab, one of the president’s aides, announced to local media that the presidency had received more than 1,800 contributions to the constitutional debate, noting that a committee was formed at the presidential level to approve or refute these proposals.

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