Political Observation - Algeria’s Constitutional Amendments

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Algeria’s Constitutional Amendments

Algerian President, Abdel Majid Taboun, announced soon after assuming his tenure that he would carry out a host of constitutional changes pertinent to the function of the armed forces, the identity of the country and the post of president. The Algerian army’s magazine in its June 2020 issue proposed constitutionalising Algeria’s participation in “peacekeeping” missions abroad under the auspices of the United Nations, the African Union or the League of Arab States. All this coincided with meetings president Abdel Majid Taboun held with the US and German ambassadors. According to the presidential communiqué on the meeting with the US ambassador, “bilateral relations and the situation in Libya and the region were reviewed.” The US ambassador for his part said: “I think we have a lot of work together to achieve our aims.” 

By reviewing the surrounding circumstances, it transpires that the proposals of the Algerian president pertinent to the constitutional amendments, especially the function of the Algerian army, have come in the context of the regime tightening its grip on society, clipping the wings of certain rival political forces, restructuring the army and reasserting its function in protecting the regime domestically and completing its reproduction now that the clique of former president Bouteflika and his brother have been marginalised thanks to the popular dynamism as was the case in Sudan. 

The proposed constitutional changes are categorised within the context of the foreign realities and how to confront their fallouts, especially in respect of the Libyan developments which would lead to fresh agreements in favour of the Libyan counter-revolutionaries and at the expense of the armed factions in the capital Tripoli according to the Berlin Conference recommendations; this has become the main issue in Libya since al-Sarraj had a meeting with the US ambassador and the AFRICOM commander in June in which the focus was the “armed” factions and the preparation to integrate some of them into the regular armed forces. This proposed change is also designed to deter the popular movement supporting the “revolution” and bulwarking the front of secularist forces and the deep state in Tunisia against the fallouts of the Libyan situation, and tackle the impotent French situation in Mali, which caused controversy in the US in January 2020 due to the burden on the US generated by the French inability to control the situation in Mali, the Sahel region and the Sahara without considerable costs according to the Pentagon. This brings the importance of amending the function of the Algerian army, expanding its missions in neighbouring countries and alleviating the US burden in securing the French forces logistically without any returns into perspective; this also sends a message to the European countries stipulating that banking on their own forces is a losing bet. 

As for the Libyan file, the Algerian army will assume the role of the stick for the armed factions in Tripoli in order to control them according to the Berlin Conference stipulations, against the carrot offered to them via Turkey with the blessing of the US, since Turkey is not expected to assume the role of the stick against those she has been helping, and thus, the Algerian role will be complementary to the Turkish role and not contradictory or against it. 

The Algerian president’s proposals to introduce a host of constitutional changes to the function of the army comes amidst the pressures being exerted on the forces attributed to the revolution in Tunisia, and amidst a vibrant political activity by the relevant parties in the Libyan file, such as the meeting of the Algerian president with the ambassadors of the US and Germany, the sponsor of the Berlin Conference on Libya, Aquila Saleh’s visit to Algeria and the Tunisian president’s to France, and Turkish senior officials’ visit to Libya, in addition to the statement of Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in which he said that “Trump has accepted a proposal by Erdoğan on working together” and that Erdoğan had instructed his officials to coordinate fully with the US in the Libyan file. 

As for the proposed amendments which would lead to tinkering with the identity of the Ummah, they have come in the shape of discarding the Arabic language and the Islamic identity from the forthcoming constitution or the one that follows it; the head of the committee of experts in charge of amending the constitution, Ahmed Laraba, and his rapporteur, Walid Laggoune, told Liberté newspaper on 8 June 2020 that “We are a country living the democratic transition; hence, the issue of citizenship is not finalised. The constitutions are addressing citizens and not believers, which means that the components of identity could be discarded from the constitution so that one may be Algerian without being Arab, or Amazigh or Muslim.” They added “You will see that these components of the identity excluded from the constitution in the future.” No sooner these statements were issued, than the protests against them erupted, which led president Abdel Majid Taboun to intervene personally to defend the head of the committee, Ahmed Laraba, by saying: “I have great confidence in him since he is the son of a martyr.” Taboun’s defence of Laraba corroborates the collusion of the presidency in discarding the clauses pertinent to identity from the constitution in coordination with the army, and this could institute a phase in which Algeria could be dragged towards federalisation which is sweeping the region, as the chord of nationalism plays a central role in destroying the cultural and geographic unity of the people. 

As for the third most important constitutional amendment, it is pertinent to introducing the post of vice-president for the first time in the modern history of Algeria. According to the amendment, the vice-president appointed by the elected president could deputise for the head of state and complete the presidential term should an impediment prevent the president from doing so due to ill health or even death. This wicked proposal is designed to entrench the front of the regime in the face of the masses and constitutionally paralyse any popular uprising against the president; it would be sufficient for the president to resign and his vice-president to assume power to sidestep the demands of the masses and protect the regime, thus averting an out-of-control rebellion, especially as the intervention of the army has become popularly loathsome in the countries of the “Arab Spring”. 

Allah the Almighty has informed us since the dawn of Islam that the Kuffar will never let this Ummah be at ease with her religion: “And they will not cease to fight against you till they have turned you away from your Deen, if they can.” [2-217]; and The Messenger of Allah ﷺ advised us by saying: "I have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go the wrong way. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Prophet." 

Hence, dear Muslims in Algeria and all the Muslims’ lands, we urge you to reject the conspiracies and the plans of the Kuffar and to refrain from serving their interest, especially harnessing the armies of the Ummah in Algeria and Egypt, as well as other Muslims’ armies, to act as a stick in the hands of the Kuffar to inflict harm on their Muslim brethren, and to weaken their abilities in wars that only serve their schemes. In the past, the Muslims’ armed forces used to be a nightmare for the Kuffar, when the Ummah was united under one single state, hoisting the banner of Tawheed and when her army was invincible for centuries. 

10 Thil Qi’dah 1441
1 July 2020