No major changes in new Algeria cabinet, Lamamra back as FM

The reshuffle was limited, in contrast to comments made by Tebboune in March promising a major shift after the polls.
Thursday 08/07/2021
A file picture shows new Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane speaking in Algiers, on August 12, 2020. (AP)
A file picture shows new Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane speaking in Algiers, on August 12, 2020. (AP)

ALGIERS – Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune unveiled a new government Wednesday after June parliamentary elections, but with few changes in top positions.

While foreign minister Sabri Boukadoum was replaced by former diplomat Ramtane Lamamra, the energy and finance ministers from the previous administration kept their jobs.

Overall, the reshuffle was limited, in contrast to comments made by Tebboune in March promising a major shift after the polls.

Former supreme court chief Abderrachid Tebbi replaces unpopular Belkacem Zeghmati as justice minister, while Ammar Belhimer remains communications minister, despite no longer being government spokesman.

The new cabinet is made up of 34 members, two fewer than the previous one and includes four women.

Tebboune on June 30 had picked outgoing finance minister Aimene Benabderahmane as prime minister.

The June 12 polls were won by the ruling National Liberation Front, but with a much reduced share of seats, along with independents and small parties supporting Tebboune.

The new parliament will take office on Thursday.

OPEC member Algeria has been trying to extract itself from a financial and economic crisis that has caused budget and trade deficits after a fall in energy export revenues, the main source of state finances.

Elected in December 2019, Tebboune has promised to carry out political and economic reforms.

He has said most planned reforms have been delayed due to the global pandemic that deepened the crisis in Algeria and worsened its financial situation.

Tebboune’s plans involve mainly developing the non-energy sector, including agriculture, as the North African nation imports most of its food needs.

The new foreign minister, Lamamra, had held the role several times under former president Bouteflika.

The June vote saw a record 77 percent abstention amid boycott calls by the Hirak mass protest movement. Tebboune had dismissed the historically low turnout even before the election, saying it was “not important”.

The Hirak, which following Bouteflika’s departure in April 2019 had continued its huge rallies for over a year to demand the rule of law and a transition to democracy, has been weakened by an official crackdown and divisions within its ranks.