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Bouteflika’s supporters set stage for presidential campaign2 minutes read

Kathleen Ndongmo

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika arrives for the inauguration of a mosque and the extension of the Algiers metro, in the capital Algiers - AFP

Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) has launched a campaign to collect 60,000 signatures in line with the electoral law to announce the candidacy of the party’s leader President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for the April 18 elections.

FLN member Mouad Bouchareb is seeking to swiftly collect the signatures of party members, who are estimated to be in the tens of thousands, as well as 600 members of parliament and state and municipal councils, one of two options given by the law to those wishing to run for the presidential elections.

Observers believe that the swift collection of the signatures is an indication that Bouteflika wants to stand for a fifth term. 

The Democratic National Alliance, led by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, will hold its National Assembly Thursday to discuss the nomination of the President.

The Alliance’s spokesman, Shehab Siddiq, indicated that the issue has been settled for months, and the party appealed to the President to run for another term because it believes the country still needs him in his position.

He told Asharq al-Awsat that the Alliance would launch the electoral campaign once the President announces his candidacy.

The Algerian Popular Movement (MPA), led by former Minister of Commerce Amara Benyounes, will also convene its National Assembly on Friday.

This party is a staunch supporter of Bouteflika. However, unlike the rest of pro-government parties, Benyounes refused to discuss the President’s possible candidacy for a fifth term, as long as Bouteflika hasn’t announced it yet.

Party sources indicated that the National Assembly meeting will conclude by recommending the President to run for elections.

In 2014, FLN loyalist parties, began campaigning for the President’s fourth mandate two months prior to the elections, with the same state of anticipation regarding Bouteflika’s willingness to remain in his position.

Since 2013, the President has been on a wheelchair and unable to speak. However, it seems that his health conditions are not an issue for his supporters.

On the other hand, retired Major General Ali Ghadiri is showing great determination to compete with Bouteflika, taking advantage of the support of a large number of intellectuals, media professionals and former military personnel who meet him regularly.

Ghadiri chose renowned lawyer Muqrin Ait El-Arabi as his campaign manager. Playwright and journalist Ayashi Ahmeda was tasked with campaigning for him in the media inside and outside the country.

Earlier this month, the retired commander appealed to Army Chief of Staff Gaid Salah to run against Bouteflika.

Saleh responded by threatening to revoke Ghadiri’s military rank, expressing strong loyalty to the President.

Political Science Professor Mohammad Hanad explained that Ghadiri hinted that the military is still in power, and chooses the president, protects and supports him, even if the leadership of the armed forces says its impartial.

He pointed out that since Algeria’s independence, the military leadership has strong political decision-making and the Algerian public considers the army the country’s de facto ruler.

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North Africa

Sudan gets new defence minister

Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council said.

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PHOTO: Maj. Gen. Yassin Ibrahim Yassin, left, takes the oath as Minister of Defense in front of Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, at the Presidential Palace, in Khartoum, Sudan, on June 2, 2020/ AP

Sudan has sworn in new defence minister, Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, two months after the death of the former defence chief, General Jamal al-Din Omar who died while in neighbouring South Sudan for peace talks with the country’s main rebel groups.

Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council.

The new defence chief came out of retirement to take the position.

His appointment comes a year after long-time autocrat Omar Bashir was toppled in mass protests in April 2019.

“We will work side by side doing our best… to achieve the goals of the constitutional declaration,” the official SUNA news agency quoted Ibrahim as saying after he was sworn in.

The swearing-in came amid tensions with neighbouring Ethiopia over a cross-border attack allegedly conducted by a militia backed by Ethiopia’s military.

Since August last year a transitional government, comprised of civilians and military officials, has taken over the reins of power in Sudan after political factions adopted a constitutional declaration.

The declaration paved the way for the new government to steer the country to civilian rule during a three-year transition.

But the transition has been fragile with the government facing major challenges, including soaring inflation, a huge public debt, tribal clashes and efforts to forge peace with rebels. 

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Tunisia to reopen borders, airspace on June 27

Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.

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Tunisia's new Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during the government handover ceremony in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on February 28, 2020. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh has announced that the country will reopen its land, air and sea borders from June 27.

He also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.

Fakhfakh made the announcement after a meeting with the national commission to combat coronavirus on Monday.

Tunisia has reported 1,084 confirmed coronavirus cases so far, a Xinxua news agency report said.

The North African country has received support from various countries including China.

On April 16, China donated a batch of medical aid to Tunisia’s Ministry of National Defense, including facemasks, test kits and medical protective googles.

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North Africa

Egypt, France plan to end terrorism in Libya

Both countries showed support for international endeavors as well as implementing the results of the Berlin process to end the conflict in Libya.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the matter during a telelphone conversation on Saturday.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have discussed the development of several regional issues, including the situation in Libya.

During a phone call on Saturday, Macron said he is keen to exchange views with Sisi over these issues as Cairo plays a key political role in the region, Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

For his part, Sisi affirmed Egypt’s firm position towards the Libyan crisis based on restoring Libyan national state institutions, ending the spread of criminal groups and terrorist militias.

He added that Egypt also gives top priority to combating terrorism, achieving stability and security and putting an end to illegal foreign interventions in Libya, a Xinhua news agency report said.

The two presidents agreed to intensify their coordination in the coming period, stressing the necessity to end the Libyan crisis by reaching a political solution that paves the way for the return of security and stability in the country, the spokesman said.

They showed support for international endeavors as well as implementing the results of the Berlin process to end the conflict in Libya.

Libya has been locked in a civil war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Libyan conflict escalated in 2014, splitting power between two rival governments, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli and another in the northeastern city of Tobruk allied with self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

While Egypt supports Haftar’s LNA that seeks to take over Tripoli, Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA. 

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