Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika late Friday announced sweeping reforms including changes to the constitution and electoral law, and initiatives that would enhance the role of political parties. Bouteflika said the reforms should be adopted before nationwide elections due in May next year.
In a much awaited 20-minute speech, his first since the start of upheavals that have rocked authoritarian regimes in the Arab world since late last year, he pledged to see through the legislative and constitutional changes “to strengthen democracy”. Algeria’s 1996 constitution was amended in 2009 to allow Bouteflika, who is 74, to seek a third term.
Bouteflika said he would ask a new constitutional panel of members of recognised political parties and experts in constitutional law to come up with proposals that would be submitted to parliament or a referendum.
A “thorough overhaul” of the electoral law will also allow Algerians to “use their right in the best democratic and transparent conditions”, he said. Political parties, regardless of whether they are represented in parliament or not, will take part in the process, he added.