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Algerian Lawmakers Pass Constitutional Reforms

  • VOA News

Louisa Hanoune, second left, Leader of Algeria's Workers' Party attends the constitutional reforms vote session in Algiers, Algeria, Feb. 7, 2016.

Louisa Hanoune, second left, Leader of Algeria's Workers' Party attends the constitutional reforms vote session in Algiers, Algeria, Feb. 7, 2016.

Algeria's government has adopted a series of constitutional reforms meant to strengthen the country's democracy by enacting limits to the presidency and increasing parliament's power, but opponents express doubts they will bring meaningful change.

The reforms passed Sunday with 499 lawmakers voting in favor, 16 abstaining, and several opposition lawmakers boycotting the vote.

The amendments re-introduce a two-term limit on the presidency, reversing a 2008 reform that allowed 78-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for two additional terms.

They also require the president to nominate a prime minister from the majority of parliament.

Opposition parties say the revisions contain some positives, but they lack real political reforms to lessen the influence of Bouteflika's ruling FLN party and the military.

The amendments will also officially recognize the Amazigh language, which is spoken by the indigenous Berber population, which existed in Algeria before the seventh century Arab invasion.

The official status means the language could be taught in schools and used in administrative business.

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