The newly appointed prime minister is calling for talks with youth and labor unions, but it will not happen easily without concrete solutions in response to protestors’ demands that Bouteflika leave when his mandate ends.
Rabat – Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has again addressed a message to the nation to announce preparations for the National Inclusive Conference, defying Algerians’ demands that he step down from office when his term ends April 28.
Hundreds of thousands of Algerians have rallied in Algiers continuously calling for reforms and for the government to refrain from postponing the 2019 election, planned previously for April 18.
Protesters made their voices heard worldwide, and President Bouteflika responded to their initial demand that he step out of the presidential race. But he promised to postpone elections instead and create a National Inclusive Conference, which protestors are also rejecting.
In his address on Monday, March 18, Bouteflika promised a “change in the country’s governance regime” and to “refresh its political, economic and social systems unter the National Inclusive Conference.”
Bouteflika said that the conference would meet in the “very near future,” but has not yet revealed the date. Protestors are concerned he plans to extend his fourth term indefinitely.
“The mission of this conference is the more sensitive, as it has the mission to issue crucial decisions, which are likely to make the qualitative leap demanded by our people, notably youth.”
He added that the step “will be endorsed by a comprehensive and deep revision of the constitution,” which will establish a “new electoral process, under which a new president will be elected.”
The president also called Algerians to “stand beside the Army to protect Algeria from the external dangers, and enjoy peace and stability.”
The army’s top chief, Gaid Salah, said on Monday that everyone should “show responsibility to find solutions as soon as possible.”
He added that Algerians are able to “prevent their country from any situation [that could be] exploited by hostile foreign parties.”
Algeria’s “pouvoir,” or elites, allegedly believe that the protests could undermine Algeria’s stability and make the country another Syria or Iraq.
Quoted by France 24, the former UN envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi denied a direct link between the situation in Algeria and in other countries.
“We must be aware of the dangers that exist. Talking about Iraq or Syria is not an attempt to tell the population to hold still … we tell them to go ahead with their eyes open,” he said.
The newly appointed prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, announced that he had begun talks with parties to form a new government.
Independent labor unions shared a statement to announce their refusal to participate in a meeting to which the prime minister invited them.
The National Union of Public Health Practitioners (SNPSP) said, “We consider that the conditions necessary for the success of such a dialogue have not yet been met.”