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Algerian New Constitution Project: Limiting Presidency to Two Terms, Two Official Languages | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Algerian New Constitution Project

Algerian New Constitution Project

Algerian New Constitution Project

Algeria’s government has released a new draft constitution that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has decided on and will adopt next month through the parliament instead of popular referendum. This project is part of reforms promised by his highness.

The Cabinet Director, Ahmed Ouyahia, presented in a press conference the new major amendments included within the new constitution.

The constitution, which needs parliamentary approval, would limit presidents to two five-year terms, which means that it resembles the constitution of 1996 that was amended in 2008 by President Bouteflika to facilitate his nomination for a third reign. It also included Amazigh as an official language. However, it stipulates that Arabic would remain the official government language.

In 2002, the Algerian government recognized Amazigh as a national language, meaning it could be taught officially in schools in Berber-speaking regions for the first time. But Berbers had pushed for Tamazight to gain official status, putting it on a par with Arabic.

The proposed constitution prohibits dual nationality holders from holding sublime positions in the country. Moreover, the presidential candidate must be an Algerian resident for at least ten years.

Ouyahia defended the mentioned amendments saying that they devote democracy and allow rotation of power.

However, the opposition parties have already criticized the proposals as insufficient. The Algerian Islamic Movement of Society for Peace, one of the most important opposition parties, saw that the project omits the main demand of the political layer, which is the need to form an independent body that oversees the organization and conducts elections instead of the Interior Ministry that is accused of rigging all previous entitlements.

From his part, Ali Benflis, the former presidential candidate, sees that the new project aims at ensuring sustainability of the existing regime, despite all its failures, and all the damages it has caused and still causing for the country. He believes that the draft submitted does not provide any prospect to solve the overall crisis the nation is suffering from on a daily basis, as a result of the adverse effects of a political system that has turned into stagnation and deficit.