This blog is no longer active, but I continue to post at the group blog MAGHREB POLITICS REVIEW.

Jan 25, 2009

No country for old men

He's an affable little fellow, but not everyone loves Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Here, for example, Rachid Benyelles lambasts the president in a long column in El Watan, one of Algeria's biggest French-language private dailies. Not only is the president a gangster and a corrupt police-state dictator, he's also old, sick and almost dead. Criticism of Bouteflika is of course par for the course in Algeria, but here, at the end, Benyelles breaks every conceivable taboo by essentially calling for a coup d'état:

The constitution and the political parties must be suspended, the parliament dissolved, and power be handed to a transitional government. During its six to twelve month mandate, it would be tasked with managing daily affairs and installing a National Council for the Installment of Democracy (CNID).
[picture: rachid benyelles]
This Benyelles, born 1935 and no youngster himself, is a retired general. In the mid-80s he briefly served as secretary-general of the Ministry of Defense under Chadli Bendjedid (meaning he was in effect the country's minister of defense, since he answered directly to the president). He was sidelined later on, by being moved to the post as minister of transport, and has not been of much importance since the end of the 1980s. Unless he's writing with backing from someone else, this should not be taken as anything other than an old man's angry rant. On the other hand, Benyelles's military background is interesting; not least because the article largely absolves the military of responsibility for the country's situation (and it doesn't even mention the DRS).

Even with the rather brutal tone of Algerian political commentary, this piece stands out for openly demanding total regime change. Such seems to be the mood as Bouteflika gears up for a third term, having eliminated all opposition and rewritten the constitution -- one of anger and desperation among his enemies, and raw bulldozer determination among his allies.

1 comment:

life insurance broker said...

Nice blog, interesting reading. This part of world is completely forgotten here in Canada. It's a pity, I think North Africa is a good place to found a better relationship between western world and Muslims. Or a place, where we can screw it too :(
Take care
Lorne