Benbitour: Bouteflika remaining in power a reflection of “non-ruling system”

The former PM Ahmed Benbitour to El Khabar

Bouteflika remaining in power a reflection of “non-ruling system”

El Khabar, 26 March 2008

In this interview with El Khabar, the former Prime Minister Ahmed Benbitour has warned from “the continuity of non-ruling system in case President Bouteflika governed the country for a third term,” while pretending three scenarios concerning the Presidential elections of 2009.

El Khabar: An opposition movement has born against amending the Constitution, what are reasons motivating the creation of this initiative, how it works and what is its support volume?

Ahmed Benbitour: Well, I joined this movement after being created and nowadays it acquires 500 members. It’s an initiative sponsored by journalists, intellectuals and civil society elite calling for implementing the Constitution before reviewing it, because the credibility of any initiative targeting amending the supreme law should come from implementing it, and the person who is not implementing the Constitution doesn’t acquire the right for amending it.
However, I’m so sorry to say that circumstances are not permitting expressing freely ideas and opinions, and the system in general is the one prohibiting that. You can see pressures on press and the locking up of TV and Radio on opposition. Eventually, it is not strange to say that Algeria is ranked 129 in terms of freedom of speech. However, the non-existence of media spaces doesn’t mean that we will keep quite and stay home.

El Khabar: The controversy over the issue of a third Presidential term intimates that the result of the upcoming Presidential elections are settled in advance on the favour of President Bouteflika before announcing his will to run for elections, do you share this point of view?

Ahmed Benbitour: I’ve already said in my writings in 2003 it would be impossible for any opponent to win Presidential elections of 2004 in case the current President run for it. I still believe the same thing today; if the current President runs for elections of 2009, there would be no place for any other candidate, only if he wants to be a rabbit.

El Khabar: So you agree with those who say that any candidate intending running for Presidentials is going to be no more than a rabbit accompanying Bouteflika for winning his third term?

Ahmed Benbitour: Sure. I, actually, imagine three scenarios for 2009 Presidentials. First of all the scenario of continuity, saying people in care of the country have agreed to empowering Bouteflika with a third term. In case this scenario came true, the non-ruling system will be kept as the state will keep shirking from its responsibility and duties towards the country. The second scenario says the same people are to agree nominating another person. Here again things are not to change too, despite being a better scenario than the previous one. While the best scenario, which we call for, is nominating a person acquiring unanimity, not from associations and parties supporting the President. This man will set political openness and to be in charge of radically changing the system and brings the country out of the unilateral ruling. Unfortunately, I see that the first scenario is the most foreseen amid these circumstances, despite the current President has not expressed clearly yet his intention to run for it.

El Khabar: Another controversy has been raised concerning activities of the US Ambassador to Algiers. He was charged by Authorities of interfering in internal affairs of the country, while the Ambassador said his meetings with civil society actors fall within his job…what do you say?

Ahmed Benbitour: This issue is an example for non-ruling system. Algeria enjoys a strategic site while anything taking place inside it would have a direct impact on the whole region. As it acquires oil, it is normal to be seen as an important country by foreign forces which are interested in places that produce violence on the base that they are to be exporting it in the future. However, we do have a foreign Affairs Ministry that has prerogatives summoning any Ambassador going beyond his limits. I, actually, can’t understand why denouncements against the Ambassador have been made through the press, and prohibiting parties and associations from meeting him, while there are official mechanisms to do that…


Interview H.Y/ Translation A.A