ALGERS- Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia on Monday in Algiers said that the right to demonstrate peacefully is guaranteed by the Constitution, warning against possible “deviations” and mentioned the possibility of holding a National Conference of Consensus. Such “unprecedented” conference may propose a “drastic” amendment to the Constitution.
Speaking at the opening of a Lower House plenary session devoted to the presentation of the Government’s General Policy Statement, Ouyahia, who welcomed the peaceful conduct of the demonstrations staged last Friday in several cities of the country, called for “vigilance to avoid any deviation” that may mar those demonstrations, since they took place in response to anonymous appeals launched on social media.
“So far, these demonstrations are peaceful but they could change in the future,” warned the Prime Minister, observing that an “overview of possible deviation was given yesterday (Sunday) through the calls to school children to take part in the demonstrations.”
Commenting the content of the slogans chanted during the demonstrations, demanding change, Ouyahia said that the April 18 Presidential Election will be an opportunity for the Algerian people to make their choice “freely and in full sovereignty.”
“Everyone has the right to defend a candidate or to oppose him, but it is the ballot box that will decide in a peaceful and civilizational way,” he argued.
National inclusive conference, possibility of “drastic” amendment of the Constitution
Referring to the National Consensus Conference that President Bouteflika pledged to convene if he was re-elected for another term, Ouyahia said that this conference would be “a first in the history of Algeria.”
In his candidacy letter, incumbent President Bouteflika pledged to convene a National Consensus Conference.
It would be open to “all” and would be a space to make proposals for “change in the country, including through a constitutional amendment that may be drastic.”
“President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is sincerely extending his hand” to the political, social and economic forces of the country “without exclusion” in order to “freely debate, to elaborate a political, economic and social platform, and also to propose a constitutional reform in line with their expectations,” he added.
“We can agree and we can diverge, but we are all children of Algeria who suffered from the tragedy (years of terrorism). Algeria today enjoys peace and stability, and the Algerian people must not lose the fruits of stability which is the result of their choice of peace and national reconciliation,” he said.
Giving more arguments in favor of this conference, Ouyahia explained that facing the challenges, Algeria is required to “redouble efforts and deepen reforms,” through a “beneficial synergy of all actors, while respecting the diversity of views.”
Over the last twenty years, Algeria witnessed “genuine recovery”
The Premier mentioned the many challenges facing Algeria, namely “the significant progress” achieved in terms of the human development, the “legitimate ambitions” of youth, the “fundamental requirements” as the Rule of Law and the Pluralist Democracy.
Ouyahia also stressed the need for a diversified and competitive economy, which would be capable of providing the State with the necessary resources for sustainable policy of national social justice and solidarity.
Referring to the external level, the Prime Minister mentioned the instability, the hotbeds of tension, terrorism and transnational crime that persist in the immediate neighborhood, as well as the uncertainties that weigh on the global economy and the fluctuation that marks the international hydrocarbon market.
Ouyhia added that “major breakthroughs were seen in all areas” as part of the implementation of President Bouteflika’s 2014-2018 programme.
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