. Africa News .

Bouteflika stroke triggers Algerian crisis
by Staff Writers
Algiers, Algeria (UPI) Apr 29, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The "minor stroke" that felled Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has plunged the government into crisis as it is being pushed into the forefront of countering North Africa's jihadists, an enemy it's been fighting for two decades.

The incapacitation of Bouteflika, 76, has heightened concerns about the stability of the energy-rich regional military heavyweight as the energy-rich country moves toward presidential elections next April amid a political power struggle.

Bouteflika was flown to Paris Saturday night after suffering what the officials APS news agency termed a minor stroke.

"His condition is not serious at all," said Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, a close ally of Bouteflika.

But Bouteflika's widely believed to have been in poor health for some time. He's rarely appeared in public in recent years and has repeatedly gone to France and Switzerland for medical treatment.

He's dropped strong hints that he's ready to step aside for next year's election, that's likely to usher in a new era in Algerian politics.

Bouteflika is one of the last of the generation of veterans who won the grueling 1954-62 war of independence against the French and who have ruled over the country of 35 million since.

Bouteflika wants to handpick his successor -- his younger brother and personal physician Said is seen as the leading candidate -- but faces tough opposition from the generals, particularly the Department of Research and Security, the most powerful of the country's intelligence services.

This shadowy cabal known as "le pouvoir" -- the Power -- has long held the reins in what is ostensibly a democracy of 35 million people.

The generals reportedly favor Ahmed Ouyahia, a former prime minister, to succeed Bouteflika.

Ouyahia is head of the National Democratic Party, the junior partner in a longtime coalition with Bouteflika's National Liberation Front, the party that led the country to independence.

Amid what looks like it could be a period of intense political feuding, Algeria is being seen externally as the lynchpin of a regional struggle to contain and crush Islamic militancy.

Al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb is waging a spreading regional insurgency centered on war-torn Mali, while at the other end of the Mediterranean jihadist groups are increasingly dominating the war to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

But Algeria, the region's military heavyweight which fought a brutal war against its own Islamist rebels in 1992-2002, is increasingly being seen as pivotal power to confront the new Islamist threat, even though the country has no wish to be plunged back into a religious conflict.

In the meantime, Bouteflika is locked in a grim struggle with "le pouvoir," specifically the DRS.

It had gained immense sway, separate from the military, during the Algerian civil war.

Its commander, Gen. Mohamed "Tewfik" Mediene, a member of the Berber minority, became one of the Algeria's most powerful figures.

Bouteflika was elected in April 1999 with the army's support, the first civilian to be president in decades, because the military thought he'd be more malleable than the army officers who'd preceded him.

But with support from the DRS, he followed a more independent path and won considerable popular support.

Bouteflika and Mediene were "widely rumored to have a de facto power-sharing agreement, with neither interfering in the other's affairs," observed the U.S. global security consultancy Stratfor.

In the 2009 election, the DRS backed Bouteflika's request for a third term and approved a constitutional amendment to that effect.

"After Bouteflika's victory, the DRS expected him to help groom a successor of its choosing to run in the 2014 presidential election," Stratfor noted. "But the relationship became strained when Bouteflika started advancing his own succession plan."

Mediene unleashed a furious campaign to undermine Bouteflika and his allies. A major target was the state-owned energy monopoly Sonatrach, the key to the nation's economy and widely seen as a center of official corruption.

Important Bouteflika allies were thrown into prison on corruption charges or hounded out of office.

The power struggle has now essentially become a battle between the DRS and the army, with Mediene elevating members of his long-neglected Berber minority into key positions.

In recent months, the DRS has highlighted new corruption scandals in Sonatrach dating to 2009. These have enraged Algerians increasingly disgruntled with the sluggish economy, unemployment and widespread poverty.


Related Links
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Get Our Free Newsletters
Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear


Mali 'cannot have two armies': French minister
Bamako (AFP) April 26, 2013
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday that Mali "cannot have two armies" in the rebel-held city of Kidal, calling for talks with armed Tuareg militants in the war-torn north. The Tuaregs' National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which runs Kidal, has refused to give up its weapons or take part in elections planned for July until negotiations have taken place wi ... read more

India predicted to receive normal monsoon rains

EU set to ban pesticides blamed for decline of bees: source

Europe needs genetically engineered crops

Deep, Permeable Soils Buffer Impacts of Agricultural Fertilization on Streams and Rivers in Southern Amazon

Scientists to replenish lobster population with help from wind farm

Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level in 150 Years on Northeast Continental Shelf

The Asian Monsoon is Getting Predictable

Campaign to save Barrier Reef from industry

China becoming global climate change leader: study

Ireland: EU consensus exists for setting 2030 greenhouse gas targets

Regional insights set latest study of climate history apart

Earth's current warmth not seen in the last 1,400 years or more

Ethiopia and China sign $1 billion power deal

New York approves power line from Canada

$674 billion annual spend on 'unburnable' fossil fuel assets signals failure to recognise huge financial risks

Germany energy transition faces cuts after European Parliament vote

China conducts its first successful bio-fueled airline flight

Recipe for Low-Cost, Biomass-Derived Catalyst for Hydrogen Production

Bugs produce diesel on demand

New input system for biogas systems

Ukraine marks Chernobyl disaster amid efforts to secure reactor

U.S. lawyer defends Australian asylum seekers

Landslide kills 14 in Ecuador

Pakistan quake victims burn tyres at angry protests

Researchers pinpoint how trees play role in smog production

Research Harnesses Solar-Powered Proteins to Filter Harmful Antibiotics from Water

European lawmakers tighten rules on ship-breaking industry

Albania to hold referendum on waste imports

Southeast Asian leaders talk China, trade

France eyes becoming trading hub for China yuan

Bill to collect Internet purchase sales tax looks set for Senate OK

China passes Australia as New Zealand's top export market

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement