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Algeria: President orders referendum on constitutional amendment 

August 13, 2020 at 12:20 pm

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in Algiers, Algeria on 21 January 2020 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images]

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called on the relevant state institutions on Wednesday to initiate preparations for the holding of a referendum on a “profound constitutional amendment” that is under consideration. Tebboune’s statement was made during a cabinet meeting that he chaired to discuss ways to develop isolated areas in the country.

“I invite you to start preparing for the referendum on a constitutional amendment, in order to provide the best conditions for citizens and enable them to have a say in the future of their homeland,” said the president. “The radical change demanded by [the February 2019 protests] comes through the constitution and not by decisions taken in closed offices.”

The Algerian leader insisted that he wants a consensual constitution. “We are about to print a text containing proposals made by the political class. Every article will include the name of the party that proposed it, and in the end we will go with the majority opinion.”

Although he did not specify a date for the referendum on the new constitution, he announced weeks ago his wish to hold such a vote in late September or early October.

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In January, Tebboune assigned a 17-member committee of experts, led by international constitutional expert Ahmed Laraba, to prepare a draft constitution within three months. When the draft was presented for public discussion, at least 2,500 proposals from political actors were submitted.

The most important proposals in the draft are the creation of the post of vice president, expanding the powers of the prime minister, and lifting the ban on army operations beyond Algeria’s borders.

Tebboune also took the opportunity to accuse former regime members, without revealing their identities, of launching a counterrevolution by using corrupt money to incite popular unrest. “The door to repentance is open to those who have been wronged so they can serve their country in the future,” he pointed out, adding that change is already happening but there is no place for those calling for a transitional stage from within Algeria and outside the country.

According to President Tebboune, an official opinion poll showed that 80 per cent of respondents are satisfied with the current security situation, because Algeria has managed to avoid the turmoil seen in Libya and Syria.

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