ALGIERS – Over a dozen Algerian trade unions rejected on Monday calls by the country’s newly-appointed prime minister to take part in consultations to form a new government.
Noureddine Bedoui was appointed the new Algerian prime minister when Ahmed Ouyahia, his predecessor, resigned after ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika renounced his bid for a fifth term in office and postponed the presidential elections that were initially scheduled for April 18.
President of the National Union of Public Health Practitioners (SNPSP) Lyes Merabet said his union, like demonstrators, demanded a new regime and, therefore, could not participate in those consultations.
The coordinator of the National Union of Secondary and Technical Education Teachers, Meziane Meriane, said his union refused the premier’s offer for “a lack of clarity.”
“We are in a difficult political situation and in order to avoid misunderstandings, transparency is more than necessary. It is a dialogue, it must be done in an organized and official framework,” Meriane told Algerian press on Sunday.
On Friday, thousands of demonstrators opposing Bouteflika took to the streets for the fourth consecutive week.
The crowd chanted anti-regime slogans such as “regime killer” and “enough corruption” and vehicles arrived in the capital from other cities, including Kabylie and Khenchela, where the protests initially broke out against Bouteflika’s decision to run for presidency.
Bouteflika, who has been treated at a Swiss hospital since Feb. 24, returned on Sunday afternoon to his home country and has been transported to the Zeralda Presidential Palace on the outskirts of Algiers, but no one has seen him.
He has rarely made any public appearances since he suffered a stroke in 2013 but he managed to win another term in office in the 2014 election.
The protests against his candidacy started among fans at soccer matches several months ago before spilling onto the streets of the capital and spreading to other big cities on Feb. 22.
As the protests kicked off, he traveled for what state-run media called a routine checkup in a Switzerland hospital, where he stayed for weeks.
While he was hospitalized out of the country, Bouteflika’s campaign manager and the country’s transportation minister, Abdeghani Zalene, submitted the president’s name for election, a move later made null and void following the president’s announcement not to run.
In another bid to weaken the rallies, the government brought vacations for university students forward by 10 days nationwide.