New premier urges Algerians to accept dialogue

Algeria’s new prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, said on Thursday he would form an inclusive and technocratic government. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 March 2019
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New premier urges Algerians to accept dialogue

  • It would be technocratic but also include young Algerians involved in the protest movement, including women
  • The prime minister urged the opposition to accept dialogue

ALGIERS: Algeria's new prime minister said on Thursday he would form a temporary government of technocrats and others to work towards political change in response to weeks of street protests, and he urged the opposition to join in a dialogue.
Noureddine Bedoui laid out his plans at a news conference in Algiers three days after ailing President Abelaziz Bouteflika announced his decision not to run for a fifth term that would have extended his 20 years in power.
Bouteflika's offer came after tens of thousands of Algerians staged demonstrations demanding an overhaul of a stagnant political system dominated by veterans of the 1954-62 war of independence.
However, he stopped short of stepping down and many activists fear his move may be a ruse.
Bedoui, who replaced Ahmed Ouyahia on Monday, said the new government would be formed early next week and would rule for "a short period of time".
It would be technocratic but also include young Algerians involved in the protest movement, including women, he said.
An independent commission will oversee the next presidential election, he said.
The prime minister urged the opposition to accept dialogue. But lawyers and activists who protesters have chosen to lead the drive for reforms are in no mood to compromise and have said they will not negotiate, at least for now.
The government on Wednesday declared itself ready for talks, saying it sought a ruling system based on "the will of the people" after opposition groups rejected proposed reforms as inadequate.
Bouteflika, who has not been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, promised on Monday to work for a new era that would cater to all Algerians.
But the initiative by the veteran revolutionary, who also delayed elections set for April and said a conference would be held to discuss political change, has failed to satisfy many Algerians who want power to move to a younger generation with fresh ideas.
Tens of thousands of people from all social classes have demonstrated over the last three weeks against corruption, unemployment and the ruling class.
The protests have shaken up a long moribund political scene marked by decades of social and economic malaise and behind-the-scenes power-broking by an influential military establishment.
Young Algerians have no bond with the independence war except through their grandparents. Their priorities are to find jobs and better services that the North African country is failing to provide despite its oil and gas wealth. 


Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

Updated 23 March 2019
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Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

  • After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism”
  • The visit to Egypt is Abdul Mahdi’s first trip abroad since taking office in October

CAIRO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle extremist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.
After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.
His comments came as US-backed forces said they had captured Daesh’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.
Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.
Some Daesh fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.
The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.
Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of El-Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.
Egypt has fought an insurgency waged by a Daesh affiliate in North Sinai since 2013. Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.