Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ahmed Ouyahia, considered likely candidate for president of Algeria, steps down as party head

One of Algeria's most prominent politicians, Ahmed Ouyahia, announced Thursday his resignation as secretary general of the National Democratic Rally. For much of the past year, several major figures in the party have been pushing for Ouyahia to step down. Ouyahia's resignation comes one year before presidential elections, for which he was not long ago considered to be a front-runner, because of his backing by the nation's powerful generals. Algeria regularly holds presidential and parliamentary elections, but true power is believed to be held by a shadowy collection of generals working behind the scenes.President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, announced he would not run for a fourth term next year, leaving the race for the presidency wide open.
 Political analyst Ahmed Adimi of Algiers University, said Ouyahia was pushed out of power by the generals to clear the way for new faces ahead of elections to give the country's politics some semblance of change amid popular discontent. "The powers that be need stability in the parties of the ruling coalition but with new personalities at their head," he said. "Ouyahia's mission is over."
On Friday, the Algerian daily El-Khabar, reputed for its close contacts to security services, suggested that Ouyahia was pushed out because of his barely concealed presidential ambitions.
 Ouyahia represented Algeria in the U.N. Security Council in the 1990s before taking control of the National Democratic Rally in 1999 soon after it was formed. He was prime minister from 2003 to 2006 and again from 2008 to 2012 and was often seen as a rival to the president.

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