Algeria Amidst North Africa's Transformation
Algeria responded actively to popular demands for political openness in the last year, and these reforms will come into full effect in 2012, according to H.E. Mourad Medelci, the Algerian minister of foreign affairs. Medelci spoke to a group of about 50 at CSIS on January 13, 2012.
Medelci described an array of Algerian government responses to unrest last spring in Algeria and neighboring states. In February 2011, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika lifted a state of emergency law that had existed since 1992 and promised additional constitutional amendments that would limit presidential terms and loosen restrictions on the press.
Medelci added that President Bouteflika reallocated the budget in order to increase public sector wages and cushion the population from high food prices. Taking a lesson from Tunisia, local governments in Algeria eased restrictions on street vendors operating without permits and postponed tax collection on storeowners claiming to be hindered by illegal commerce.
Medelci emphasized that development policies aimed at attracting investment, diversifying the economy, and educating a robust workforce will promote broader economic progress in the country. He was optimistic that cooperation with the U.S. and Europe on pharmaceutical innovation and clean energy technology—in addition to traditional energy sectors—will continue. Likewise, he suggested that Algeria’s unusually high import rates in the last year indicate growth in infrastructural development.