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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid