Algeria’s former PM appears in Supreme Court over alleged corruption: state TV

Algeria’s former prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahi, who left the government in March as part of a cabinet reshuffle, will be investigated over corruption cases. (File/Reuters)
Updated 12 June 2019

Algeria’s former PM appears in Supreme Court over alleged corruption: state TV

  • It is the second time in less than two months that the former prime minister appears in court in connection with corruption investigations
  • Since the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, several wealthy businessmen have been held in custody for benefiting from government contracts

ALGIERS: Algeria’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia appeared before the Supreme Court on Wednesday as part of a raft of anti-graft investigations opened into senior figures since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down, state television reported.
Ouyahia, who left the government in March as part of a cabinet reshuffle, will be investigated over corruption cases including “awarding illegal privileges,” it said, without giving details.
His former transport minister, Abdelghani Zaalane, later also appeared before the court in connection with a corruption investigation. State TV gave no more details on either case.
Their lawyers could not be reached by phone for comment.
State television gave no details of what would happen next in the judicial processes involving Zaalane and Ouyahia, who is the leader of Algeria’s second largest party, the Democratic National Rally (RND).
The two politicians are the latest figures to be investigated on corruption allegations since mass protests erupted more than three months ago demanding the departure of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people they see as corrupt.
Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 under pressure from the army and protests that broke out on Feb. 22. Zaalane had been named campaign manager for Bouteflika for an April 18 presidential election, which was canceled.
The army is now the most powerful institution and its chief Ahmed Gaed Salah has urged the judiciary to investigate all people suspected of being involved in corruption.
Several senior figures including another former prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, and eight former ministers appeared last month in a court in Algiers on suspicion of corruption.
Bouteflika’s youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge for “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority.”
Several prominent businessmen, some of them close to Bouteflika, have been detained pending trial.
Protesters are now seeking the departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, both seen as part of the elite that has ruled the North African country since independence from France in 1962.
Ouyahia’s RND supports the interim government, but is not part of it.
Authorities have postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set for the vote.


Libya’s Tripoli government seizes last LNA stronghold near capital

Updated 12 min 6 sec ago

Libya’s Tripoli government seizes last LNA stronghold near capital

  • Military sources in Haftar’s Libyan National Army said their forces had withdrawn from the town of Tarhouna
  • The advance extends the control of the Government of National Accord

TRIPOLI: Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognized government captured the last major stronghold of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar near Tripoli on Friday, capping the sudden collapse of his 14-month offensive on the capital.
Military sources in Haftar’s Libyan National Army, LNA, said their forces had withdrawn from the town of Tarhouna. They headed toward Sirte, far along the coast, and the air base of Al-Jufra in central Libya. The LNA made no immediate official comment.
The advance extends the control of the Government of National Accord, GNA, and allied forces across most of northwest Libya, reversing many of Haftar’s gains from last year when he raced toward Tripoli.
The United Nations has started holding talks with both sides for a cease-fire deal in recent days, though previous truces have not stuck. The GNA gains could entrench the de facto partition of Libya into zones controlled by rival eastern and western governments whose foreign backers compete for regional sway.
Turkish military support for the GNA, with drone strikes, air defenses and a supply of allied Syrian fighters, was key to its recent successes. Ankara regards Libya as crucial to defending its interests in the eastern Mediterranean.
However, the LNA still retains its foreign support. Washington said last week Moscow had sent warplanes to LNA-held Jufra, though Russia and the LNA denied this.
The United Nations says weapons and fighters have flooded into the country in defiance of an arms embargo, risking a deadlier escalation. Meanwhile, a blockade of oil ports by eastern-based forces has almost entirely cut off energy revenue and both administrations face a looming financial crisis.
Stronghold

Located in the hills southeast of Tripoli, Tarhouna had functioned as a forward base for Haftar’s assault on the capital. Its swift fall suggests Haftar’s foreign supporters were less willing to sustain his bid to take over the entire country once Turkey intervened decisively to stop him.
The GNA operations room said in a statement that its forces had captured Tarhouna after entering from four sides. Abdelsalam Ahmed, a resident, said GNA forces had entered the town.
Videos and photographs posted online appeared to show GNA forces inside Tarhouna cheering and hugging each other and firing into the air.
“The Libyan government forces are rapidly moving in an organized manner and with armed drones. There could be a solution at the table, but Haftar’s forces are losing ground in every sense,” said a Turkish official.