As anti-establishment sentiment persists in Algeria, President Tebboune has appointed a critical, little known PM to help ease the country’s stress.
Rabat – Abdelmajid Tebboune, the newly elected Algerian president, has picked an obscure academic and retired diplomat as his Prime Minister, a move the Algerian media say is aimed at rapidly regaining popular trust amid ongoing anti-establishment protests.
The new PM, Abdelaziz Djerad, 65, is a professor of international relations and political science at Algeria’s National School of Administration (ENA), one of the country’s most prestigious academic institutions.
A little known figure in political circles, Djerad is said to have gained a degree of prominence over the years for his poignant analysis of the country’s socio-political situation, both in academic articles and regular interviewed interventions in the media, TSA reported on December 28.
Having earned a reputation over the years as a pertinent analyst of Algerian politics, TSA’s piece argued, Djerad is particularly known for his anti-establishment inclinations.
He has notably criticized the country’s governing elite on various occasions, pointing fingers at the political establishment for exacerbating a climate of distrust and popular discontent.
A supporter of the ongoing Hirak protests from the outset, he told TSA in April that, “if a president is elected within the existing framework, currently imposed on Algerians, there will be another more important crisis and a total rupture between the governors and those governed.”
‘Winning back people’s trust’
Djerrad’s appointment comes as popular discontent shows no sign of abating among masses of protesting Algerians, who have made it abundantly clear that they do not consider the December 12 elections as legitimate.
While President Tebboune is a civilian, he is largely seen as the choice of the military to perpetuate the old regime’s practice of having a civilian figurehead president operate at the behest of the military establishment.
Middle East Eye has reported that, not later than last Friday, December 27, thousands rallied in Algiers to call for the immediate departure of President Tebboune.
“Tebboune leave. A civilian state, not a military one,” the London-based newspaper quoted protesters as chanting. “I will march until we get a true democracy. I don’t recognize this president,” one protester, 55, told Middle East Eye.
In such a climate of deep-seating mistrust between the people and the governing elite, Djerad’s appointment is seen as President Tebboune’s way of extending to Hirak protesters a hand of genuine dialogue and negotiations to take the country out of the socio-political quagmire in which it has been mired since President Bouteflika resigned.
President Tebboune has asked Djerad to form the country’s next government in the briefest possible time period.
And the new PM, visibly aware of the symbolism of his appointment but also the daunting scope of the challenges ahead, used his first public statement to spell out the action plan and major ambitions of his prospective government.
He said it was vital that the next government work to “win back people’s trust,” arguing that the first major step of his government would consist in bringing Algerians together to “social-economic challenges and pull ourselves out of this delicate period.”