Monday, 23 May 2011

Algeria: Opposition to boycott reform talks

Algerian opposition leaders have said that they will boycott the proposed start of the democratic reform talks that are set to begin on Saturday 21st May in protest at what they call a "feeble attempt at real change".

As we have reported in recent issues, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has asked a panel of recognised political parties and experts in constitutional law to come up with further proposals that would be submitted to parliament or a referendum. He initially tasked the Speaker of the Senate, Abdelkader Bensalah, to get the process started. However, given Bensalah's generally perceived lack of qualities, Bouteflika, as we reported last week, provided him with two old regime stalwarts in the personages of the architect of the 1992 coup d'├ętat, General Mohamed Touati, and a former minister Mohamed Ali Boughazi.

Opponents of the regime regard the appointment of this trio as merely an attempt by Bouteflika to keep his hold on power.

"We wait for concrete action towards change in order to reestablish trust in power and the state, not just fiddling around," said Karim Tabbou, secretary of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS) which will boycott the talks.

Said Sadi, leader of the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) said that the government-initiated talks were simply a " monologue against change ." "The era of political tinkering is over," he added.

An El-Watan editorial said that the government "will find itself consulting itself.” It went on to say that the president's proposals are aimed at supporting a system which "wants to keep things in hand while making it appear it is reforming, which it is not."

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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