Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced a crackdown on corruption in his government. The question is whether or not he is the lead corruptor. For more facts and information read our guide…
Bouteflika is in his third five year term as president. During this time, Algeria’s oil and gas wealth has not benefited the people. Algeria, once considered the breadbasket of North Africa, now imports almost all of its food. There is considerable mishandling within the government of contracts for service projects.
President for Life?
Bouteflika has also managed to get the Algerian Parliament to lift restrictions on the number of times he may be elected, thus almost ensuring him a lifetime job as president. There has been a state of emergency declared after elections 17 years ago in which an Islamic party representative won the election, but was denied the office. This state of emergency still is enforced. Turnouts for the national elections keep going down, but the Bouteflika administration reports that turnout is heavy.
People who defy Bouteflika often just disappear. One woman whose husband has been missing for 15 years has been told different stories about his whereabouts, but has been informed of his arrest. After marching in a protest against government corruption, she was arrested, beaten and forced to sign an agreement that she would not take part in protests again. Still, she has no knowledge as to where her husband is.
The company Sonatrach, a major oil producer has been under investigations for awarding sales of their products without bids. Most of their oil goes to four or five companies stated the Energy minister.
The Public Works minister is also under investigation for under the table dealings with Chinese companies that are building the East-West highway. Other projects have also been awarded to these Chinese companies.
The fishing minister has recently been found guilty of conducting illegal deals with foreign industries. The list of corruption and suspected corruption goes on and seemingly all levels of government have been affected.
In December of 2009, Bouteflika announced an anti-corruption campaign. All suspected cases of corruption in the past few years have been reopened. To date, there has been prosecution in some 4,000 cases dating back to 2006. Some 20 odd province governors have been removed from office.
There has been a reshuffle in Bouteflika’s cabinet. Several of his ministers are under investigation. He has removed a few of these. The main question would seem to revolve around Bouteflika himself. How can a man who has ruled his country for so long and has corruption running through his government not have been a part of the corruption himself?
With the current discontent in North Africa, there obviously are changes that need to be made. How far Bouteflika will go with these changes remains to be seen.