Algeria. In May elections were held for Parliament’s lower house, the National People’s Assembly. The election was the first held after the constitutional amendment 2016 that reintroduced the rule of a maximum of two terms of office for the president. As in all elections in the 2000s, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s party won the National Liberation Front (FLN). This time, the party received 161 of 462 seats, while FLN’s coalition partner, the Democratic National Assembly (RND), received 100 seats. In third place with 34 seats came the largest Islamist party, the Social Movement for Peace (MSP) in alliance with the Party for Change. The turnout was only 38%. According to MSP leader Abderrazak Makri, the regime was guilty of electoral fraud and harassment and violence against Islamist supporters.
According to Countryaah.com, the period after the election became politically messy. Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal surprisingly left his post at the end of May and was replaced by former Housing Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune. After almost three months, in mid-August, Tebboune was also fired. President Bouteflika gave no reason for his decision, but according to speculation it could be a power struggle within the internal circle around the president. New Prime Minister became RND leader Ahmed Ouyahia, who thus assumed this office for the fourth time. During his time as head of government, Tebboune announced that work and residence permits should be issued to African migrants who are in Algeria without valid documents. It is estimated that in Algeria there will be about 100,000 refugees on their way to Libya and from there to Europe. In October, the 80-year-old Bouteflika’s ability to lead the country was challenged in a joint statement by three prominent Algerians. The president, who has been sitting in office since 1999, has health problems and, according to the statement, should not be allowed to stand in the 2019 presidential election.
In September, the Algerian leader of the Ahmadiya religious movement was sentenced to six months imprisonment for blaspheming Islam. The movement originated in India and is considered by most Muslims not to belong to Islam. A campaign against Ahmadiya has been going on in Algeria since 2016 and nearly 300 of the movement’s approximately 2,000 supporters in the country have been imprisoned.
The low world market price of oil creates major economic problems for Algeria. In September, the government presented its plan to reduce the budget deficit. According to this, the central bank will print more money which will then immediately be lent out to the central government. International commentators warned that action would lead to increased inflation, which in turn risks causing social unrest when people get less for money.
In November, Algeria and neighboring Mauritania agreed to open a border crossing between the countries for the first time since independence in the 1960s. This will be located near the city of Tindouf in western Algeria. The border area consists of a desert where various armed groups often clash and where smuggling of weapons, oil and migrants grazes.