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Algeria: President Tebboune (already) reshuffles the government

By Farid Alilat
Posted on Wednesday, 24 June 2020 16:18

Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune arriving in Berlin on 19 January 2020. (Hayoung Jeon /EPA/MAXPPP)

Six months after coming to power, the Algerian president made adjustments to his government. The most notable change is in the energy sector.

The information was relayed late in the evening of Tuesday 23 June on public television. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune carried out a partial reshuffle within the government led by Abdelaziz Djerrad. Tebboune was appointed on 28 December 2019, 15 days after the election of the head of state, and important adjustments are now taking place on his team.

The waltz of ministries affects Finance, Higher Education, Agriculture, Transport, Tourism… But the most notable is undoubtedly the upheaval in the Energy sector. Goodbye to Mohamed Arkab, who from now on will be in charge of Mining. Abdelmadjid Attar, a consultant whose expertise in hydrocarbons is sought after internationally, was appointed in his place. This former CEO of the Sonatrach oil group between 1997 and 2000 was also, for a time, Minister of Water Resources.

Complicated situation

Attar’s arrival at the head of the Ministry of Energy comes at a very complicated time for Algerian authorities. The fall in oil prices – which, along with gas, accounts for 95% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings – is putting a strain on the state budget.

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The financial situation is even more delicate with the erosion of foreign exchange reserves. Already in office under Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Abderrahmane Raouya will hand over the Ministry of Finance to Aymen Abderrahmane, who was until now, governor of the Bank of Algeria. The academic Abdelbaki Benziane, director of the National Polytechnic School of Oran, will become Minister of Higher Education in place of Chems Eddine Chitour. The latter is now in charge of energy transition and renewable energies.

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Belkacem Zeghmati retains his position as Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals. As does Sabri Boukadoum in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the other hand, Rachid Bladehane is relieved of his State Secretariat in charge of the Diaspora in favour of Samir Chaabna, deputy of the El Moustakbal Front, elected in the Marseilles constituency.

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Also joining the government are Mohamed Hamidou for Tourism, Abdelhamid Hamdane for Agriculture, and Lazhar Hani for Transport. Their nominations were met with some hostility by the government team headed by Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerrad .

Instead of reining in on the size of the government, Algeria is now faced with an arguably excessive 39 ministers. This is not in line with Tebboune’s promise of renewal and rupture. A third of the ministers from the first team had been in their posts since former President  Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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