Algeria unveils draft constitutional reforms

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Algeria’s government has announced draft constitutional reforms that would restrict presidential terms to two only and would obligate consultation with the parliament for the appointment of prime minster by the president.

On Tuesday, Ahmed Ouyahia, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s cabinet director, presented the draft reforms, which will go to the parliament for approval this month. The parliament is dominated by Bouteflika’s allies.

The constitutional amendments would limit presidents to two five-year terms. Since independence from France in 1962, Algeria has been mostly governed by the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) and the military.

“We don’t want Algeria to fall into anarchy, we have seen what has happened in other countries,” Ouyahia said, apparently in reference to the pro-democracy calls and protests in other Arab countries, adding, “This isn’t a project that concerns politics only; it also touches the lives of citizens.”

The charter would also recognize the language Amazigh, used by Berber minorities in Algeria, as an official language of the country, while Arabic will remain the official language.

President Bouteflika, who was re-elected for a fourth term in 2014, promised a package of reforms to strengthen democracy in the North African country in 2011. He approved the proposed amendments last month, saying they would allow the “deepening of the separation of powers.”

He suffered a stroke in 2013 that left him in a French hospital for months before he returned to Algeria. The president has not appeared in public, except in brief images on state media.

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