Acting Speaker of the Algerian National Assembly Salah Goudjil, who is the second most powerful man in the country, criticised and questioned the motives behind the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s decision to open a consulate in the Laayoune area, Western Sahara. Goudjil also raised questions about the link between this move and the Emirates' normalisation plan.
Goudjil warned of a media campaign targeting Algeria, which uses the illness of the president as a pretext to mislead public opinion, noting that President Abdelmadjid Tebboune will soon resume his duties.
Goudjil stated at a parliament session devoted to the ratification of finance laws and the criminalisation of child abduction, that: "The periphery of Algeria is witnessing political fluctuations." Goudjil posed the question: "Which countries are most targeted by the recent frenzy of normalisation with the Zionist entity? The Palestinian people are not the only target here, but also the Arab revolutionary positions. This the true target."
As for the link between normalisation and opening a consulate in Laayoune, the parliament speaker again asked: "Why did the UAE open a consulate in Laayoune? We must ask questions and take into account the motives behind this move."
The UAE was the first Arab country to open a consulate in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara. This sparked widespread criticism among Algerian politicians and intellectuals, who considered the decision an act of retaliation against Algeria's rejection of the Emirati normalisation agreement with the Israeli occupation.
Algerian diplomat and former minister Abdelaziz Rahabi conveyed in press statements about the UAE's move in Laayoune: "I consider any hostile position to the fundamental interests of Algeria from any Arab or foreign country as an aggressive stance towards Algeria."
He added: "Algeria did not attempt to problematise Morocco's relations with its allies. But some countries are taking advantage of some stances to strike Algeria's interests. For example, if the concerned region receives arms from other countries then the affair becomes more than a political position and carries serious implications on the security and safety of the Algerian borders."
Regarding the recent controversy and rumours surrounding President Tebboune's health, Goudjil pointed out that the president will soon return: "To continue his noble and historic tasks to build the new republic."
The Algerian official criticised what he considered a campaign against Algeria run from abroad, and exploitation of the president's illness, claiming: "Unfortunately, there are parties, especially from the outside, who launched a campaign against Algeria, and took advantage of the president's illness and interpretations about his health to raise questions about the fate of Algeria without a president. This media war against Algeria must be confronted."
A French-speaking Senegalese website reported the death of President Tebboune, but the presidency denied this in a telephone interview with Al-Jazeera.
Goudjil emphasised that Tebboune is staying in a German hospital after recovering from COVID-19, while indicating that certain French-speaking websites and social media accounts are spreading lies.
He also disclosed that the medical team accompanying Tebboune is preparing the final medical report that will allow him to return home.
The Algerian president has been in Germany since 28 October, where he received treatment for complications resulting from a coronavirus infection. He is now in recovery after completing treatment, according to a previous statement by the Algerian presidency.