Algerian president promises new political reforms to cope with development projects

12:58, March 20, 2011      

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has decided to launch new political reforms to cope with huge economic projects that the government has been implementing in the last decade to achieve comprehensive development in the North African country.

Bouteflika said Saturday at the occasion of the celebration of the Victory Day that his country is on the right track for bringing about more political reforms.

He hailed the lifting of the state of emergency that has been in effect since 1992, saying it turned over a new page for more comprehensive reforms in the country.

"Construction of economy goes hand in hand with the political building which aims to establish a strong country with strong citizens," the president was quoted by official APS news agency as saying.

"The lifting of the state of emergency doesn't mean giving up eradication of terrorism remnants. It's our country's new step on the way to eliminate the consequences of the black years," Bouteflika said in a conference held Saturday.

The president's decision coincides with current calls of the opposition to launch a radical reform in the country. Such calls have been manifested in opposition rallies and demonstrations which have been holding for two months.

The National Alliance for Change (ANC), which includes several political parties and former government figures, has called on Friday that the change should be preceded peacefully, in order to avoid the country falling in violence and chaos.

In this regard, head of ANC and former Prime Minister Ahmed Benbitour has indicated that "the change is coming inevitably, either peacefully, or through violence," adding that the peaceful change is possible in Algeria.

Benbitour further called to "establish a road map in order to build up a new Algeria," pointing out "the longer the change is delayed, the higher price we pay."

Furthermore, former Minister of Industry Abdelmadjid Menasra who currently heads the non-recognized Movement of Preaching and Change, which split off from the Movement for Society of Peace which affiliated Muslim brotherhood, called for "a peaceful change away from any violent act."

"The change is coming, and nobody can stop it," he said. "We reject a democracy with no opposition and without the participation of the people and political parties in it."

Although Bouteflika promised a successive five-year agenda including administrative, judicial and financial reforms, which is "only a prelude to a comprehensive reform aimed at changing Algeria in all fields," he did not give any details about which program has been planned.

However, the Algerian opposition has been demanding more freedom and civil rights, parliament re-election, as well as constitution amendments.

In this regard, leader of the Movement for the Society of Peace, Abu Djerra Soltani has recently called for making a comprehensive revision of the constitution, in a way leading towards a parliamentary system and bridging the trust gap between the regime and the people.

Meanwhile, State Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem said the political initiatives by the opposition, civil society organizations and political figures for a peaceful change "show healthy political participation and pluralism in Algeria."

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