Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Thursday appointed a new foreign minister to replace veteran Ramtane Lamamra as part of a cabinet reshuffle involving a dozen chairs.
Mr. Lamamra, 71, in office since June 2021 after a first stint at the head of Algerian diplomacy between 2013 and 2017, was replaced by Ahmed Attaf, who returns at 69 to a ministry he had headed between 1996 and 1999, according to the Presidency of the Republic. Mr. Attaf, a career diplomat, trained at the National School of Administration ENA in Algiers, like President Tebboune. His appointment comes in a context of high tensions with neighboring Morocco, in particular on the question of the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
This conflict opposes Morocco to the Polisario front, supported by Algeria, since the disengagement in 1975 of Spain, the former colonial power. The Polisario calls for a self-determination referendum under the aegis of the UN while Rabat promotes autonomy under its sovereignty. On Monday, the newspaper Le Matin d’Algérie questioned the absence of Mr. Lamamra during an important two-day visit to Algiers, on March 12 and 13, by the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell. “However, it was up to him (Lamamra, editor’s note) to be responsible for welcoming him” to Algiers, recalled Le Matin, wondering about possible “health problems” of the minister, a “disgrace” or disagreements with President Tebboune.
The newspaper had recalled Mr. Lamamra’s efforts to “restore some luster to a moribund diplomacy inherited from (Abdelaziz) Bouteflika”, the former president who led Algeria for 20 years until his resignation in the spring of 2019 under the pressure from the Hirak pro-democracy movement. In total, the reshuffle affected 11 ministries including that of Finance where the director of the budget Laaziz Fayed replaces Brahim Djamel Kessali.
At the Ministry of Commerce, Kamel Rezig, who had escaped since January 2020 the various reshuffles carried out by Mr. Tebboune since his election in December 2019, will give up his chair to Tayeb Zitouni, former mayor of Algiers and CEO of the fairs company and Safex lounges.
The Algerian president has appointed Ali Aoun as head of a ministry bringing together industry and pharmaceutical production, replacing Ahmed Zeghdar.
At the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the former president of the Algerian Olympic Committee Abderrahmane Hammad succeeds Abderezak Sebgag, and at the Ministry of Transport, Youcef Chorfa, a former Minister of Labor, takes the place of Kamel Beldjoud. At the Ministry of the Environment, Faiza Dahleb succeeds Samia Moualfi.
Abdelmadjid Tebboune has also appointed Mohamed Nadir Larbaoui, former representative of Algeria to the UN, to the post of chief of staff to the presidency. His predecessor, Abdelaziz Khellaf becomes Minister of State, adviser to the President.
The last reshuffle made by Mr. Tebboune within the government of Prime Minister Aimene Benaderrahmane dated back to September when he appointed Brahim Merad to the Interior Ministry, replacing Kamel Beldjoud, who was then appointed to the Transport Ministry.
This article is originally published on lorientlejour.com