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Algeria appoints new Prime Minister

© EC 2006 / Berlaymont
afrol News, 24 June
- Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika reshuffled his cabinet yesterday, appointing Mr Ahmed Ouyahia as head of government for the third time, replacing Mr Abdelaziz Belkhadem.

Mr Ouyahia a National Rally for Democracy (RND) party member, who was presidential aide and also renowned for his tough line against Islamic extremists in Algeria, was elected as premier beating Mr Belkhadem in the run.

Mr Ouyahia has served two terms as Algerian prime minister from 1995 to 1999 and from 2003 to 2006, when he was replaced by Belkhadem in a reshuffle.

Mr Ouyahia is expected to introduce constitutional reform legislation allowing president Bouteflika to run for a third term in 2009, while spearheading attempts to contain hardline Islamic extremist sentiments.

"We are going to continue to apply the policy programme of the president of the republic," Mr Ouyahia said after an announcement.

The appointment comes at a time when booming oil prices are expected to generate an 80 billion dollar 2008 bounty. Practically bankrupt throughout the 1990s, Algeria's revenue is set to reach new economical heights, because of oil revenues.

Mr Belkhadem returns to his former post of minister of state and Bouteflika's personal representative before becoming prime minister in 2006.

The reshuffle which includes changes at the head of the transport, communication and financial reform ministries, comes at the time when Algeria is unsettled by recent resurgence in extremist violence.

Other cabinet figures exiting government are Mohamed Maghlaoui, replaced by Amar Tou at the transport ministry; Boudjemaa Haichour, replaced by Hamid Bessallah, the only new member of the team at the postal, IT and communication ministry and Fatiha Mentouri, whose post of junior finance minister charged with public sector reform is not being filled.

Algeria has battled Islamic insurgency for years, but the number of attacks has risen dramatically since the country's main militant group vowed allegiance to al-Qaida in 2006.

Most of recent bombings have been claimed by al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, formerly known as the GSPC - a Salafist group that grew out of an insurgency that raged in the country in 1990s.

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