Algiers– Sacking the Algerian Prime Minister could be the beginning of power struggle over the succession of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, according to observers.
In less than three months after appointing him, Bouteflika sacked Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday, according to a presidential statement carried by state media.
“President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Tuesday relieved Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune of his duties and appointed Ahmed Ouyahia,” the statement added.
Ouyahia, 65, served three terms as prime minister and most recently was Bouteflika’s chief of staff.
He is also leader of the National Rally for Democracy (RND), and during May’s parliamentary election he won absolute majority in the parliament along with Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN).
Bouteflika is expected to name the new government soon, although reports say that Ouyahia will most likely maintain the majority of the ministers of Tebboune’s cabinet, except Minister of Industry.
Political observers stated that it is possible that Bouteflika assigned Ouyahia as prime minister in an attempt to “kill his political dream” of becoming president before the 2019 presidential elections.
For his part, Tebboune avoided to comment on his departure. He said “All I can say is that I’m still faithful to President Bouteflika.”
Few weeks after his assignment as the PM, Tebboune entered a public media war with prominent businessman Ali Haddad who is also close to Said Bouteflika, the president’s brother and special adviser.
As prime minister Tebboune was leading the austerity drive, he also spoke out about the need to separate money from politics. News about his dismissal was surprising for his supporters, especially after the rise in his popularity on social media.
Few days ago, Algeria seemed to be witnessing an open political crisis after the President gave the former PM Tebboune instructions through the private TV Channel al-Nahhar.
According to Algerian law, Nahhar is a foreign and not considered part of the official channels.
The president’s instructions included several warnings to Tebboune’s ministers to stop meddling with businessmen and investors and asked them to refer to the law in case of violations. The president said that such behavior is bad publicity for the country.
FLN Secretary General Djamel Ould Abbes reiterated that Bouteflika is the ruler of this country and there is no alternative authority.
Speaking before party commanders, Abbes said he wouldn’t analyze what the president did since he is the decision maker and aware of all aspects of the issues.
Founder of opposition party New Generation (Jil Jadid) Sofiane Djilali said that ever since the president appeared at the funeral of former PM Reda Malek and his public provocation of the PM, Algerians realized that the internal balances of the system are broken.
Djilali said that the President’s alleged reprimand to PM Tebboune made it clear that the regime is divided.
He explained that it had been agreed among the president’s entourage that he will continue in position no matter his condition or illness duration, meanwhile people around him will prepare for succeeding him.
Djilali claimed that Tabboune and his supporters were against the “militia deviation of the president’s clique threatening civil peace and security.”
According to Djilali, it is no longer acceptable for the other party in power to overlook the unconstitutional decisions made in the name of an irresponsible president who has nothing left other than his title.
This public crisis will not be over with the departure of the PM, stated Djilali, adding that the failing system suffers from presidential vacuum and impersonation.
Former Trade Minister and opposition figure Noureddine Boukrouh stated that it was pertinent if the President summoned the PM or spoke with him on the phone rather than speaking about him in the media like he is some sort of criminal to be arrested.
“Whether those actions and statements came from the president, his brother, or his chief of staff, they are still nonsensical actions. And if indeed the orders attributed to the president were issued by him, this means we’re ruled by a man who is not just physically ill, but also mentally incompetent,” Boukrouh declared, adding that this requires the president’s dismissal.