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Algeria’s economy in delicate situation as public debt hits 45% of GDP1 minute read

“Our country has experienced catastrophic mismanagement in recent years which led to the squandering of its wealth,” PM Djerad said.

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Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad presents the work plan of his government before the National People's Congress on February 11, 2020 in Algiers. (Photo by Billal Bensalem/NurPhoto)

Algeria’s Prime Minister, Abdelaziz Djerad said on Tuesday that the country’s public debt rose to 45% of gross domestic product at the end of last year from a level of 26% in 2017, and that the country’s economic situation is “delicate”.

Addressing lawmakers in parliament, Djerad blamed mismanagement and corruption during the past years for worsening financial problems in the OPEC-member nation, pledging to overcome the situation through reforms, a Reuters report said.

Algeria has been under financial pressure after a fall in energy earnings and foreign exchange reserves amid growing demands from the country’s 43 million people to improve living standards.

“The current financial situation is still fragile as it depends on the volatility of the oil market,” he said, presenting the government action plan at the lower house of parliament.

“The difficult and delicate economic and social situation will be faced by the government with responsibility,” he added.

Djerad was named prime minister in December and Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected president in a vote largely rejected by protesters demanding the departure of the entire ruling elite and the prosecution of people involved in corruption.

Several senior officials and prominent businessmen have been jailed on corruption charges since the eruption of mass protests that ousted veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika who sought a fifth term in office.

“Our country has experienced catastrophic mismanagement in recent years which led to the squandering of its wealth,” Djerad said. The government will carry out “deep reforms to get the country out of this critical political and economic situation,” he said.

The government plan includes boosting dialogue with the opposition and seeking alternative funding sources for the economy such as issuing sukuk and developing the country’s tiny stock exchange.

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North Africa Politics

Sudan peace talks with rebels extended by 21 days

Hopes of a peace deal were raised after Sudan’s transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, made ending conflict in these areas a priority.

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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in an undated photo.

The Sudanese government and a coalition of rebel groups on Monday extended peace talks for another three weeks after missing a deadline for a final peace deal. 

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of nine rebel groups, and Khartoum representatives signed a deal to keep negotiations going after failing to wrap up talks by February 15.

“Hopefully this will be the last extension for these talks,” SRF deputy chair Yasir Arman told AFP.

Important steps have been made to “finalise a peace agreement,” Arman said.

The peace talks, which began in South Sudan in October, aim to end conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where rebels have fought bloody campaigns against marginalisation by Khartoum under ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

Hopes of a peace deal were raised after Sudan’s transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, made ending conflict in these areas a priority.

So far the parties have agreed on a ceasefire, humanitarian access, land issues and the resettlement of those displaced by the conflicts.

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North Africa Politics

Sudan compensates families of victims of USS Cole bombing

The compensation will be paid as part of the transitional government’s effort to remove Sudan from the US terrorism list.

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Sudan appeals for $10 billion aid for economic reform
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok/AFP

Sudan has signed a deal to compensate families of the American servicemen killed in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, the country’s justice ministry said on Thursday.

The deal was signed on February 7 in Washington to fulfil a key condition for removing the northeast African country from the United States’ state sponsor of terrorism list, the ministry said in a statement without specifying the amount of compensation agreed, an AFP report said.

“As part of the transitional government’s effort to remove Sudan from the terrorism list, a deal has been signed on February 7 with the families of the victims of the USS Cole incident,” the ministry said.

“The deal clearly specifies that the government of Sudan was not responsible for the incident or any such terrorist incident and it is doing this deal only to… fulfil the condition put by the American administration to remove Sudan from its terrorism list.”

On October 12, 2000, a rubber boat loaded with explosives blew up as it rounded the bow of the guided-missile destroyer, which had just pulled into Aden, Yemen, for a refuelling stop. 

Seventeen American sailors were killed as well as the two perpetrators of the attack claimed by Al-Qaeda, in an early success for the terror group and its founder Osama bin Laden.

A US court then ruled that Sudan, where the two bombers were trained, was responsible for the attack — a claim Khartoum always denied.

In 1993, Washington listed Sudan in its terrorism blacklist for its alleged support of Islamist groups. Bin Laden used to reside in Sudan from 1992 to 1996.

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Algeria seeks 20-year sentence for Said Bouteflika, ex-president’s brother

The once mighty Said Bouteflika, 62, was long seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 19, 2012, Said Bouteflika, brother of Algerian President, attends the funeral of late Algerian singer Warda Al-Jazairia, one of the most famous singers in the Arab world, at the El-Alia cemetery in Algiers. - Sentenced in September to 15 years in prison for conspiring against the army and the state in Algeria, the 62-year-old brother and powerful advisor to ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika as well as two former intelligence bosses and a party leader are due to appear on February 9 for a retrial. (Photo by Farouk Batiche / AFP)

Algeria’s state prosecutor is seeking a 20-year jail term for the brother of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, lawyers said Monday, as he seeks to appeal a 15-year sentence.

The once mighty Said Bouteflika, 62, was long seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.

He had served as a key presidential aide but was detained in May last year, a month after Bouteflika quit office weeks into mass protests against his bid for a fifth presidential term.

In September Said Bouteflika, along with several other senior regime officials, were sentenced by a military tribunal to 15 years in jail for “conspiring” against the state and undermining the army’s authority.

A court in Blida, south of Algiers, began hearing an appeal against the sentence on Sunday behind closed doors and amid heavy security.

The deliberations continued on Monday, also behind closed doors, with the defence team presenting their arguments, according to defence attorney Farouk Kessentini.

Kessentini is representing General Mohamed Lamine Mediene, known as “Toufik”, who for 25 years headed the powerful Department of Intelligence and Security, and was sentenced in September alongside the former president’s brother.

Also in court were Mediene’s former right-hand man, General Athmane “Bachir” Tartag, and Louisa Hanoune, who had served as secretary general of the left-wing Workers’ Party.

The four defendants are accused of having met in March 2019 in a bid to derail plans by the army high command to force the departure of president Bouteflika.

Said Bouteflika allegedly wanted the intelligence bosses to dismiss the army chief of staff at the time, General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

Defence lawyers hope the four will be released after Algeria’s balance of power shifted following the December 23 death of Gaid Salah at the age of 79.

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