Country Profiles – North Africa
Bouteflika reasserts his stake
The year was marked by spectacular events, tragically led by a jihadist attack on the Tiguentourine gas plant at In Aménas, that in January shook governments and the oil industry. But for much of 2013 Algerian politics was defined by the illness of the president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and speculation about the future.
Implacable pressure on the Islamists
Going into 2014, the government appears intent on continuing its massive crack down on Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, a campaign that left many of the Islamist movement’s leaders in prison, and killed more than 1,000 people in its first four months. Although weakened, the Brotherhood presents a dilemma to the government through its regular protests that sometimes descend into violent clashes.
Local forces defy Tripoli
In spite of the breadth and determination of the forces ranged against him, there is every chance that Libya’s prime minister, Ali Zeidan, will still be in office at least at the start of 2014. This will not be the result of any intrinsic strength in his position, nor of any weakening in his opponents’ determination to oust him.
Abdel Aziz under fire
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who overthrew the country’s only democratically elected president in 2008, continues to be the dominant force in politics. As The Africa Report went to press opposition parties were threatening to boycott legislative and municipal elections planned for 23 November. Most of the parties of the Coordination de l’Opposition Démocratique (COD) umbrella group promised not to participate in the polls, which had already been delayed for two years.
The king back in control
King Mohammed VI has reasserted his primacyover the political system after a two-year period that saw the launch of a new constitution and the election of the first Islamist government. But the king has given the Islamists tough cards to play, including implementing pension reform and reducing fuel subsidies.
Unrest moves closer to home
After the heightened nationwide tensions and unrest in the cities in 2013, the coming months are likely to see an intensified focus on the presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2015. Although President Omar al- Bashir has said he will not run again, some National Congress Party (NCP) groups have already started campaigning for him to run once more. The last polls, in 2010, were a long way from free and fair.
Picking up the pieces
After the euphoric post-revolutionary moment, Tunisia moved into 2014 against the backdrop of a long-running political crisis. In November 2013, the transitional government was looking for a new prime minister as the main political forces failed to reach agreement about issues ranging from the terms of a new constitution to the timeline and regulations for elections.