Algerian cabinet reshuffle, 29 May: I

For now, look to the TMND Twitter feed (see side bar and here) for analysis of the 25 May Algerian cabinet reshuffle which put Chakib Khelil and a few other Algerian Ministers out of work, while moving others. This is most likely intended to project the image that president Bouteflika is concerned about and taking action over corruption within the ministries. Most changes were cosmetic and had been predicted in rumors for weeks: while high profile figures were moved, lesser men with heavy and well known issues with corruption have stayed on. The most important shifts are at the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Energy and Mines. While English-language media is focused on Khelil’s removal and its importance in terms of the feud between Bouteflika and the intelligence services over “corruption,” his departure is less interesting than Nouredine Yazid Zerhouni’s appointment as Deputy Prime Minister from his long-time posting at the tremendously consequential Ministry of the Interior. Zerhouni is followed up at the Interior Ministry by Daho Ould Kablia, who takes a promotion from a deputy position there. Ould Kablia (a MALG alumni like Zerhouni) is a trusted ally of Zerhouni and Bouteflika. Many believe Zerhouni will now serve to watch over Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and help to insulate president Boueflika from any possible subterfuge at the top. In other words, he is sandbagging for the medium term. Add to this the fact that Bouteflika has been absent from several important international and national functions (Ali Tounsi’s funeral, the Washington nuclear summit, official Mawlid celebrations, the hydrocarbons nationalization anniversary ceremonies and so on) and many contingencies and thoughts germinate. More on this later.

2 thoughts on “Algerian cabinet reshuffle, 29 May: I

  1. The dismissal of Khelil coming after the SONATRACH scandals etc indeed seems like the culmination of a campaign… As for Zerhouni (who’s also been in hot air lately: recall the Tounsi affair), this could also just be a retirement post. He was powerful as MoI, but what does a Vice PM really do? Not much, as long as there’s a PM. So unless he moves on upwards or gets some special attention from Boutef (like Belkhadem, whizzing around the globe on behalf of The Man), he has been cut down to size.

    • Great to see you’re still reading and offering analysis, Alle!

      RE: Retirement: That’s also possible in Zerhouni’s case. He’s old and as you note suspicious given the Tounsi episode, of which he was a beneficiary. In a deputy to PM position (which does seem, well, beneath Zerhouni’s background) I can see it being a way of balancing Ouyahia’s (and his backers) ambition and providing insulation by way of his intelligence contacts. Also, because he’s been in the Interior for so long it could also be him being cut down to size, as you say. I can see him getting special attention but I hesitate because of his age and reputation. If that is the intention, though, his imperious style could do him well or cause problems. We will see. I’m still collecting information to make a fuller analysis.

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