President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has called for a new electoral law before the end of the year.
Rabat – Algeria’s government has failed to learn from the boycotted referendum, claim opposition parties as new elections loom. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune reemerged on Sunday in a video published on Twitter. In his public address, Algeria’s president called for a rapid drafting of a new elections law before the end of the year.
Tebboune’s call for a new electoral law was mainly directed at a committee of experts that was established on September 20 and is tasked with revising the country’s electoral law. Controversially, Ahmed Laraba, who also led the drafting of the new constitution that Algerians widely boycotted, is heading the committee.
The committee has been busy drafting the new elections law since September, but the process stalled because of Algeria’s health and economic crises. Tebboune’s message on Sunday aims to “accelerate” the committee’s “mission,” according to the president’s statement.
Yet fault-lines within the committee have emerged over the last months. The committee remains divided on crucial elements of the new law, according to Algerian outlet El Watan. The country had amended its laws governing elections in 2019, but only regarding Algeria’s presidential elections.
Establishing a new electoral code means a tough road ahead. A preliminary draft will need approval by the Council of Ministers before moving to parliament for final approval. Opposition parties such as the Party of the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) describe the two-week deadline President Tebboune announced as wishful thinking.
The FFS fears that rushing the new electoral law will hamper any chance of real political change in Algeria during the next legislative and local elections cycle. The new electoral law is set to maintain the status quo and shows the regime has not learned from the boycotted referendum, according to a statement by FFS spokesman Djamel Baloul.
Rushing through the new electoral law means losing another chance for a peaceful change of the “failing” and “rejected” system of governance, Baloul told Liberte Algerie. He considers the rushed and “imposed” process to constitute a “threat” to Algerian cohesion and a weakening of the government’s legitimacy. The law will be “contested and rejected by the people,” Baloul’s statement read.
Why the rush?
Many in Algeria regard the process with suspicion, fearing the next round of legislative and local elections are set to only further entrench the country’s elite. “Why the rush?” asked El Watan. Tebboune justifies the rushed process by merely saying it will “begin the operation which will follow the constitution.”
The revision of Algeria’s electoral laws could be a moment for contemplation and an opportunity for meaningful reform, yet the process reeks of a mission impossible while the country’s nearly all-powerful president remains in a German hospital .
The race to pass the new law comes amid an economic crisis and the COVID-19 epidemic, both of which are eroding the remaining trust in government.
“More and more, the reality of a downward trend in the standard of living of Algerians is perceptible,” Mustapha Hammouche wrote in Liberte Algerie. The opposing voices agree on one thing: The people of Algeria need government action to combat the country’s crises, not rushed political deals that further undermine the system’s legitimacy.