Algerian senator arrested in anti-graft sweep

Djamel Ould Abbas. (Supplied)
Updated 08 July 2019

Algerian senator arrested in anti-graft sweep

  • Ex-minister was accused of abusing his office for personal enrichment

ALGIERS: An Algerian senator close to ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been jailed on accusations of corruption.
State television announced that a Supreme Court judge ordered Djamel Ould Abbas incarcerated in Algiers on Sunday after several hours of questioning for alleged wrongdoing when he was government minister during Bouteflika’s first term, 1999-2004.
Accusations include falsifying official documents and abusing his office for personal enrichment, according to the state television report.
Abbas, vice president of Algeria’s Senate, has not publicly commented on the accusations. He relinquished his parliamentary immunity amid growing political pressure over the case.
He is the latest of several high-profile figures arrested in an anti-corruption sweep since Bouteflika was pushed out of office in April by mass protests backed by Algeria’s army chief.

Call for poll
Meanwhile, Algerian opposition parties and civil society figures called a day earlier for elections to take place in six months, after the interim president pushed for dialogue. The group proposed “free and pluralistic” elections “in a period of six months,” in a statement issued at a meeting of political parties and civil society representatives.
The “National Forum for Dialogue” meeting on Saturday was chaired by former minister Abdelaziz Rahabi, who has backed mass protests against the ruling elite. A political crisis initially culminated in long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigning in April on the back of huge demonstrations, and major rallies have continued.

FASTFACT

Djamel Ould Abbas was ordered incarceration in Algiers after several hours of questioning for alleged wrongdoing when he was government minister during Bouteflika’s first term, 1999-2004.

Algerian protesters are pushing for an overhaul of the entire political class. Saturday’s meeting pushed for the creation of a body to prepare for the polls, composed of figures chosen by “the parties of dialogue with the exclusion of symbols of the former political regime.”
Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah called on Wednesday for a national dialogue, in which he promised the state and army would remain neutral.


Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

Updated 24 min 15 sec ago

Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

  • The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new PM unraveled
  • Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29

BEIRUT/PARIS: Lebanon does not expect new aid pledges at conference which France is hosting on Wednesday to press for the quick formation of a new government that can tackle an acute financial crisis.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanon to create a new government swiftly or risk the crisis worsening and threatening the country’s stability.
The economic crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war: a liquidity crunch has led banks to enforce capital controls and the Lebanese pound to slump by one third.
Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite, with no agreement on a new government.
Nadim Munla, senior adviser to Hariri, who is running the government as caretaker, told Reuters the Paris meeting would probably signal a readiness to offer support once a government is formed that commits to reforms.
“They will recognize that there is a short-term problem and that if and when a government (is formed) that basically responds to the aspirations of people, most probably the international community will be ready to step in and provide support to Lebanon, or additional support,” he said.
“It is not a pledging conference.”
Lebanon won pledges of over $11 billion at a conference last year conditional on reforms that it has failed to implement. The economic crisis is rooted in years of corruption and waste that have generated one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new prime minister unraveled.
Hariri is now seen as the only candidate for the post.
He has said he would only lead a cabinet of specialist ministers, believing this is the way to address the economic crisis, attract aid, and satisfy protesters who have been in the streets since Oct. 17 seeking the removal of a political class blamed for corruption and misrule.
But Hezbollah and its allies including President Michel Aoun say the government must include politicians.
“Let’s see the coming few days and if there will be an agreement among the political parties on a formation ... otherwise we might take longer,” Munla said. Hariri would be willing to have politicians in cabinet but they should not be “the regular known faces of previous governments.”