While President Bouteflika’s entourage seems intent on him running for a fifth term, Issad Rebrab, the CEO of Cevital Algerie, has questioned whether the 82-year old is governing Algeria.
Rabat – The CEO made his remarks while speaking to French outlet France 24 on Friday, November 23. The businessman argued that decision-making in the most crucial sectors for Algerian socio-economic life now lies with a circle close to the ailing president.
“An invisible hand is ruling Algeria,” Rebrab said, explaining that “the president is not even aware” of the most “worrying developments” the country has been experiencing of late.
“An invisible hand is governing Algeria… The invisible hand astonishes everyone and is the source of all the obstructions facing investments in the country. I don’t think President Bouteflika knows about this obstruction.”
For the Algerian businessman, a circle of old-school politicians, technocrats, and billionaires have taken grip of the country’s political power and economic resources. While the ruling elite wishes to maintain its dominance on Algerian political life, the country’s economic situation worsens daily.
The North African country is going through a dire crisis that heralds more serious and worse social, political, and economic issues if current leadership succeeds in keeping political momentum.
“The economic situation is untenable,” he said. While Algeria’s economy essentially depends on oil, the fluctuating and unstable global market for oil means that “Algeria must diversify its economy.”
Economic diversification would require a change in leadership priorities. Rather than buy public support and voters’ sympathy by distributing oil revenue, Algerian authorities should invest more in making room for “profound, urgent, and radical reforms needed to uplift the country from its worrying situation.”
But who is governing Algeria? And why is Bouteflika keen to run for another term if he is no longer the one in charge? And, perhaps more importantly, what would it take to diversify Algeria’s oil-dependent economy and embrace the new economic model which Algeria observers and analysts have been proposing?
The hidden hand, Rebrab explained, boils down to a circle of technocrats and billionaires who are doing everything in their power to contain and prevent change.
“Ninety-95 percent of Algerians want things to change. Only the remaining 5-10 percent wants things to remain as they are because they take huge benefits off the rentier system.”
Rebrab’s remarks come after the publication on November 19 of a detailed study on Algeria’s current economic situation. Like Rebrab, the study spoke of Algeria in ominous terms. Politically paralyzed and economically unstable, Algeria is on the verge of deep crises should reforms not be made, the study predicted.