13 Algerian Unions Refuse to Back PM’s Efforts to Form Govt.

Algerian protesters are pictured during clashes with the police during a demonstration against Algeria’s president’s candidacy for a fifth term, on February 22, 2019 in the capital Algiers

Thirteen independent Algerian unions announced that they will not support the efforts of newly-appointed Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui to form a new government.

“We will not hold discussions with this system, we belong to the people and the people said ‘No’ to the system,” Boualem Amora, one of the leaders of the education sector unions, told reporters.

Bedoui has promised to create an inclusive government of technocrats, taking in the military and business representatives, in an effort to placate protesters, who for weeks have been calling for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his inner circle to step down.

Union leaders said they refused to enter a dialogue when he reached out to them.

“The new government will fall in 24 hours as long as it lacks legitimacy and popular support,” said Fodil Boumala, one of the people protesters have chosen to spearhead popular pressure against what they see as an authoritarian system.

Many Algerians have rejected overtures by Bouteflika, 82, who has reversed a decision to stand for another term after 20 years in power.

Protesters have grown tired of the same ruling elite, veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France, the military, intelligence agencies and big businessmen.

Algerians have made it clear they will only settle for new leaders who can improve living standards, deliver greater freedoms and dismantle a Soviet-style bureaucracy that has discouraged investors.

Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. Protesters say he is no longer fit for office.

The president has been losing allies in recent days since returning from medical treatment in Switzerland, including senior members of the ruling National Liberation Front party, known by its French acronym FLN.

On Sunday some workers at Algeria’s biggest natural gas field staged a protest against extending the president’s fourth term, an energy official said, referring to a proposal by Bouteflika to stay in office until a new constitution is adopted.

Output at the Hassi Rmel field was not affected, said an official from state oil and gas company Sonatrach.

Algeria is an important gas supplier to Europe, mainly Italy, Spain and France. Several foreign firms operate in the country including BP, Total and Repsol.

Meanwhile, newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister Ramtane Lamamra is expected to visit several countries including Russia, China and some EU nations to explain the crisis in Algeria, a foreign ministry official said, according to Reuters.