Who are the power brokers in Bouteflika's regime? | Euronews answers

Who are the power brokers in Bouteflika's regime? | Euronews answers
Copyright REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros & Samia Mekki
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Army chief of staff, head of the employers' union, a workers' union, and a coalition government — these are the key players in Bouteflika's political regime.


In a sudden twist to Algeria's political saga, some of the pillars of Abdelaziz Bouteflika's long-standing regime are withdrawing their support for the 82-year-old president, who now rarely appears in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.

But who are the mainstays of Bouteflika's establishment?

We've broken down the key players. All of them have backed the Algerian president since his ascent to power but their support became more salient during Bouteflika's 3rd and 4th terms, and the 5th term election bid.

Army's chief of staff Ahmed Gaed Salah

REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

Lieutenant General and the army's chief of staff Ahmed Gaed Salah is also Algeria's deputy defence minister (Bouteflika is defence minister).

On Tuesday, he said a constitutional procedure that would declare Bouteflika "unfit for office" should be triggered, arguing this would meet the demands of protesters who want to see the ailing president removed from office.

Speaking on local television, Salah said that starting the constitutional process was "the only guarantee for political stability".

Salah called for Algeria's constitutional council to rule whether Bouteflika was fit for office. This kind of ruling would have to be ratified by a two-thirds majority of members in the two houses of parliament.

Under Article 102 of the constitution, the chairman of the parliament's upper house, Abdelkader Bensalah, would serve as caretaker president for at least 45 days after Bouteflika's departure.

Coalition parties: National Rally for Democracy and National Liberation Front


The National Rally for Democracy (RND), headed by former prime minister Ahmad Ouyahia, and the National Liberation Front (FLN), led by Mouadh Bouchareb (Bouteflika acts as the honorary president of the party), form Algeria's coalition government. They've been allied since Bouteflika's accession to power in 1999.

On Wednesday, both the RND and the FLN issued statements backing an army call for Bouteflika to step down a day earlier.

READ MORE: Bouteflika's FLN party supports army's call for ailing president to resign

For Bouteflika, the loss of Ouyahia's and the FLN party's support is yet another blow to his withering leadership.

Ali Haddad, head of the employer's union (FCE)

Pierre Gattaz (L), chairman of the Mouvement des entreprises de France (Medef), and Ali Haddad, chairman of Algeria's Forum des chefs d'entreprises (FCE), speak to the press during the Franco-Algerian "Medef-FCE" meeting in Algiers on February 7, 2018.RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

Ali Haddad, one of the richest men in Algeria according to Forbes, has provided financial backing to Bouteflika's election campaigns.

He is the owner of the construction company ETRHB Haddad Group, which is now one of the largest in the country.

Haddad is also a key stakeholder of the Algerian football club USM Alger and owns various newspapers as well as a TV station.

General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA)

People cheer on Algerian President as he delivers a speech on the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the nationalization of the hydrocarbons and the 56th anniversary of the creation of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA), during a visit to Oran and the region on February 23, 2012.FAROUK BATICHE / AFP

The UGTA headed by Algerian politician Abdelmadjid Sidi Said, is the main Algerian trade union. It was founded in 1956 to mobilise Algerian workers against French colonial interests.

A long-time a staunch supporter of Bouteflika, it also backed the army's calls for the president to step down.

Is there an opposition?

Not really. Bouteflika managed to get rid of a real political opposition but the main opposition party is represented by the Movement for the Society of Peace, an Islamist party currently led by Abderrezak Makri and aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.


The people

Thousands of Algerians have been protesting for five weeks now demanding the removal of the entire ruling political system. Demonstrators say that declaring Bouteflika "unfit to rule" over article 102 is not enough.

"Protests will continue... Algerians' demands include a change of the political system," Mustapha Bouchachi, a lawyer and activist, told Reuters.

"The implementation of Article 102 (the part of the constitution that covers declaring a president unfit for office) means that the symbols of the system will oversee the transition period and organise presidential elections," he said.

"We want a real democracy, not a facade of a democracy," said postal worker Zakaria Jaziri.

READ MORE: Why are people protesting in Algeria? | Euronews answers

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