FILE PHOTO: U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi pauses during a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva January 27, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File
Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran diplomat who is expected to steer Algeria’s political transition after mass protests, has won respect from foreign leaders and his country’s political elite during his long career, Reuters reported.
But his appointment may not go down well with protesters demanding rapid change. At 85, he is three years older than President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and from the same generation that has presided over Algerian politics since the 1954-62 war of independence against France.
Bouteflika yielded to the protests on Monday by postponing elections and dropping plans to stand for a fifth term. Brahimi is now likely to chair a conference planning Algeria’s future, a government source said.
A former foreign minister, Brahimi has carried out troubleshooting missions for the United Nations across several regions and mediated on some of the Middle East’s thorniest conflicts.
Though not directly or publicly involved in national politics, he is a heavyweight of Algeria’s establishment, long viewed as a possible presidential candidate. He is close to Bouteflika.
“The voice of the people has been heard,” Brahimi said on state television after Bouteflika’s announcement that he would not seek a new term.
“Young people who took to the streets acted responsibly and gave a good image of the country. We must turn this crisis into a constructive process.”
Bouteflika has said his own final act will be to usher in a new system that will be in “the hands of a new generation of Algerians”.
The “inclusive and independent” national conference that Brahimi is expected to head is tasked with drafting a new constitution and setting a date for elections by the end of 2019.
It is likely to include prominent war veterans as well as representatives of the protest movement which has brought tens of thousands of people on to the streets since last month, political sources said.
The plan may struggle to win support, however. Large crowds turned out again in cities across Algeria on Tuesday, protesting against the extension of Bouteflika’s term and calling for faster change.
Leave a Comment