Algerian PM calls on President Bouteflika to seek 5th term

Algeria's prime minister has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to seek a fifth term in April 2019, despite his age and partial paralysis. (Reuters)
Updated 21 June 2018

Algerian PM calls on President Bouteflika to seek 5th term

  • Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair, hasn’t yet made known if he’ll run next year, by which time he’ll be 82.
  • He has led Algeria since 1999 and won a fourth term in 2014 despite suffering a stroke the previous year.

ALGIERS: Algeria’s prime minister has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to seek a fifth term in April 2019, despite his age and partial paralysis.
Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair, hasn’t yet made known if he’ll run next year, by which time he’ll be 82.
Ahmed Ouyahia said Thursday at the opening of his party’s national council that Bouteflika twice saved the North African nation, with his policy of reconciliation that allowed extremist insurgents who nearly brought down the state in the 1990s to rejoin civilian life and by protecting Algeria against the Arab Spring chaos that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Libya.
Ouyahia heads the National Democratic Rally, the No. 2 force in the governing coalition after the FLN, whose chief last October also called for Bouteflika to run.

Bouteflika, head of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), has led Algeria since 1999 and won a fourth term in 2014 despite suffering a stroke the previous year.
The president made two rare public appearances in a wheelchair in April and May, at the inauguration of a mosque and for the extension of the Algiers metro.
In late May, a group of academics and political figures urged him not to seek a fifth mandate, citing his "advanced age" and "dramatic state of health", and warning against "unhealthy forces" trying to convince him to stand.


Russia warns Belarus will pay price for contractors’ arrests

Updated 05 August 2020

Russia warns Belarus will pay price for contractors’ arrests

  • Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said that the Belarusian leadership has turned bilateral ties into “small change in the election campaign”
  • Medvedev described the arrested contractors as part of a “simple political technology — to create an enemy image and to achieve a political result using that enemy image”

MOSCOW: Russia’s security chief described the arrest of 33 Russian private military contractors in Belarus as a presidential campaign stunt and warned Wednesday that it would have grave consequences for ties between the two neighbors and allies.
Authorities arrested the Russian contractors outside the capital of Minsk last week on charges of planning to stage mass riots, amid an upsurge of opposition protests ahead of the Sunday election — in which Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is seeking a sixth term.
Russia has demanded the release of the contractors for a private firm, saying they only were in Belarus because they missed a connecting flight to another country. The government in Minsk has further irked Moscow by raising the possibility that some of the contractors could be handed over to Ukraine, which wants them on charges of fighting alongside Russia-backed separatists.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, sharply raised the stakes in the dispute Wednesday, saying that the Belarusian leadership has turned bilateral ties into “small change in the election campaign.”
Without mentioning Lukashenko by name, Medvedev described the arrested contractors as part of a “simple political technology — to create an enemy image and to achieve a political result using that enemy image.”
“It’s not only offensive, it’s very sad,” said Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president in 2008-2012 and then as prime minister for the next eight years, before becoming No. 2 in the Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin. “And it will entail sad consequences, too.”
Throughout his 26 years in office, the authoritarian Lukashenko has relied on Russian subsidies and loans to shore up his nation’s Soviet-style economy but fiercely resisted Moscow’s push for control over Belarus’s economic assets.
The Kremlin turned the heat up on the Belarusian president earlier this year by withdrawing some of the subsidies and warning the government it would have to accept closer economic and political integration to continue receiving Russian energy at a discount.
Lukashenko denounced Moscow’s position as part of Russia’s alleged efforts to deprive Belarus of its independence.
The 65-year-old president alleged in a state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday that another group of “militants” had been sent to southern Belarus, but gave no details. He warned Moscow against trying to fuel tensions in his country, saying that the instability could spread to Russia.
In a move certain to anger the Kremlin even more, Lukashenko had a phone call Wednesday with the president of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for Belarus to hand over 28 of the arrested Russians so they can be prosecuted for allegedly fighting alongside Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Belarusian authorities claimed the arrested contractors worked for the Wagner company. The private military firm is linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman who was indicted in the United States for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Wagner has allegedly deployed hundreds of military contractors to eastern Ukraine, Syria and Libya.