News / Middle East

Algeria's Bouteflika Seeks to Curb Security Service Power

FILE - Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
FILE - Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Reuters
Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika wants to push through constitutional reforms before 2014 elections to put an end to the powerful intelligence service's role as political kingmaker, the ruling FLN party's chairman said.
 
Any challenge to the Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS) would amount to a major shakeup in Algeria where observers say the security agency has ruled behind the scenes with members of an FLN elite since independence from France in 1962.
 
Bouteflika's campaign, which will be seen as part of power play between his FLN faction and DRS chief Mohamed Mediene, may decide whether Bouteflika runs for a fourth term or, as many expect, steps aside.
 
Changes at the top of Algerian politics are closely watched - the country is Europe's top energy supplier and a lynchpin U.S. partner in combating Islamist militants in the Maghreb.
 
Amar Saidani, chairman of the National Liberation Front party or FLN, told Reuters Bouteflika was determined to create a “civil society” and limit the DRS' political influence.
 
“The DRS will continue to play its role, but it will no longer get involved in politics, including in the political parties, media and justice,” Saidani said at FLN headquarters in Algiers' Hydra district.
 
Constitutional reforms would set clear definitions on the roles of the security agency and the army, he added.
 
“The era of kingmakers is over because Bouteflika's goal is to build a civil state,” he added.
 
"The power"
 
The government denies Algeria is run though backroom deals among a party-military elite known by the French term “Le Pouvoir” or the power, pointing to the country's democratically elected president and parliament.
 
Five months ago, a stroke put Bouteflika in a Paris clinic. But since his return in July, the veteran of the independence fight has steadily moved to outflank his rivals, analysts say, appointing loyalists to key posts in a recent cabinet reshuffle.
 
He has already weakened DRS influence by transferring some of the security agency's powers to the army where one of his loyalists is now chief of staff, analysts have added.
 
Under the constitution, Bouteflika can run again. But since the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolts across the region, Algeria has come under pressure to deliver promised constitutional reforms to show it is strengthening democracy, observers say.
 
In April 2012, Bouteflika said publicly his generation's time was over, referring to the veteran independence-era leaders who ran the country for five decades.
 
At the top of the list of expected reforms is a proposed term limit for the president and vice president posts, which if passed, would leave Bouteflika out of the line up.
 
“He is our candidate, and there is no other candidate for the presidential vote, but Bouteflika,” Saidani said. But when asked what would happen if Bouteflika refused to run, he said: “It is still too early to speak about this now.”
 
Saidani said international observers would be invited to monitor the April presidential vote, only the second time this has happened since independence.
 
Six months before the ballot, Algerians still do not know who their candidates are, even though more than 100 political parties are now active. Most candidates stand little chance of winning in a system still dominated by the FLN.
 
“The reforms as well as the upcoming election will shut the mouth of those who denigrate us from abroad,” Saidani said. “They will no longer say that Algeria is ruled by generals.”

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid