Following the Arab Spring in 2011, and in a bid to strengthen democracy in Algeria, some constitutional reforms were promised by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The reforms which were passed by 499 votes to two, with only 16 abstentions, according to senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah are;
Algeria now recognizes the Berber language. The language will appear on all official documents although Arabic will still remain the country’s official language. The language which is also known as Amazigh by the locals was recognized in 2002 as a language.
But recently it was officially accepted. This means that the language is not limited to being spoken by locals or being taught in schools, but would appear on official documents as well. Berber speakers who were the original inhabitants of North Africa before the Arab invasion make up 33.3% of the country’s population.
Algeria has always had a two term limit on the presidency but in 2008, the limit was lifted to allow President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a third term. The two term limit has been reinstated. Also, the president is charged with the authority of nominating a Prime Minister from the party with the largest parliament occupancy.
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There has also been a promise of an independent electoral body to supervise the conduction of free and fair elections in Algeria. Women and youth are bound to experience less isolation as the government seeks to recognize their roles and ensure they are not side-lined.
These reforms as earlier stated are meant to strengthen democracy, but critics hardly believe so. One of the reforms prevent Algerians with dual nationality to run for high posts in public offices and this has raised skepticism from the opposition.
The opposition believe the constitutional changes do not solve Algeria’s problems but only that of the ruling regime.
Djamel Zenati said, “with the current revision, our country’s constitution finally brings together the main elements necessary to build a democracy. But as “violating laws has become the law” in Algeria, it is hard to believe those in power are being even “the slightest bit sincere,” the former lawmaker wrote in wrote in El Watan newspaper.