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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 April 2019

Algerian unions refuse to support PM's efforts to form government

'We will not hold discussions with this system,' one union leader said

Demonstrators are silhouetted against a national Algerian flag as they stage a protest on the Republique Plaza in Paris, France, Sunday, March 17, 2019. AP
Demonstrators are silhouetted against a national Algerian flag as they stage a protest on the Republique Plaza in Paris, France, Sunday, March 17, 2019. AP

Thirteen independent Algerian unions have refused to back the newly-appointed prime minister's efforts to form a government he hopes will placate protesters who are pressuring President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his inner circle to step down.

"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.

Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui has promised to create an inclusive government of technocrats in a country dominated by veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France, as well as the military and business tycoons.

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

Algerians, who have been demonstrating for more than three weeks, have rejected overtures by Mr Bouteflika, who has reversed a decision to stand for another term after 20 years in power.

The ailing president stopped short of relinquishing office and said he would stay on until a new constitution is adopted - in effect extending his fourth term in office and meaning he is likely to stay in power for some time.

Protesters have made it clear they want a whole new generation of leaders and are likely to see the formation of a new government as a ruse.

Mr Bedoui is unlikely to defuse anger on the streets by kicking off talks on a new administration. The new cabinet will include experts without political affiliation and will "reflect the demographics of the Algerian society", APS state news agency said on Sunday.

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of protesters staged the biggest demonstration since the unrest began. Some carried banners saying "no to Bedoui".

Updated: March 18, 2019 03:33 PM

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