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Algeria’s Dialogue Panel Expands Number of Members

Algeria’s Dialogue Panel Expands Number of Members

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019 - 06:30
Demonstrators gesture and carry flags during a protest demanding the removal of the ruling elite in Algiers, Algeria, June 14, 2019. (Reuters)

A six-member panel, which was set to coordinate Algeria’s national dialogue, announced its plan to mediate between “public authorities,” civil society and political parties.

According to a statement received by AFP on Monday, the panel has expanded its membership to include Mohamed Yassine Boukhnifer, a virtual unknown.

It has also called on 23 people to join it, including war heroine Djamila Bouhired, former Foreign Minister Ahmed Taleb El Ibrahimi and human rights lawyers Mokrane Ait Larbi and Mostefa Bouchachi.

Three former premiers, Mouloud Hamrouche, Ahmed Benbitour and Mokdad Sifi, were also invited to join the panel, in addition to former Minister of Communications Abdelaziz Rahabi and former army general Rachid Benyelles.

Unionists Elias Zerhouni and Messaoud Boudiba, Head of the Association of Algerian Ulama Abderrazak Guessoum, preacher Said Bouizri, journalist Hadda Hazem, tribal leader in the south Brahim Ghoum and Drifa Ben M'hidi, revolutionary leader Arabi Ben M'hidi’s sister, were all asked to join the panel.

“The main objective of the national body for mediation and dialogue is to consult, communicate and hold talks with civil society actors, political parties, national figures, young people and activists from all over the country in order to develop a clear vision of ways to end the country’s current crisis,” the panel’s first statement read.

It stressed that the panel is independent and has the power to take decisions without any intervention from any party.

Following the consultation phase, it will prepare final proposals that bind all public authorities, the statement added.

Algerian interim president Abdelkader Bensalah set up the panel to oversee a national dialogue and hold a presidential election aimed at ending months of political crisis, the presidency said on Thursday.

However, demonstrators took to the streets on their 23rd consecutive Friday of protests to denounce its formation, saying it does not represent them.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down on April 2, after 20 years in power, under pressure from mass protests demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people suspected of corruption.

Protesters are now demanding the departure of Bensalah, a former head of the upper house of parliament, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who are regarded by demonstrators as part of the old guard that has governed the North African country since independence from France in 1962.

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