Algeria names panel to amend constitution as protests persist

Algeria names panel to amend constitution as protests persist

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune formed a panel on Wednesday to amend Algeria’s constitution to give parliament and the judiciary a greater role, a step aimed at helping end a months-long political crisis.

Tebboune was elected last month to replace veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to step down in April amid massive protests that have persisted since then, demanding a total change of the power structure.

The protesters opposed the election, arguing that any vote held while the old elite still held power was illegitimate, and tens of thousands still demonstrating each week have rejected his offer of dialogue.

Tebboune’s office said in a statement that the 17 people on the new constitutional committee would have three months to submit proposals for discussion which could then be sent to parliament and finally put to voters in a referendum.

The panel is led by Ahmed Laraba, a member of the United Nations International Law Commission. It has a mandate to look at all aspects of state organization and reconsider the role of parliament and the judiciary to promote the rights of citizens.

Tebboune has also promised measures to diversify the oil-reliant economy by encouraging investment in non-energy sectors with the aim of reducing imports of food and other goods now costing over $40 billion annually.

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