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World News

Algeria says new constitution to meet protesters' demands, allow more reforms

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s new constitution, due to be put to a referendum on Nov. 1, would meet demands by a protest movement that ousted veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika last year, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said on Sunday.

Tebboune also vowed to amend other laws and continue fighting against corruption to enable the state to restore confidence after investigations in 2019 revealed the involvement of several senior officials in corruption cases.

The referendum will be the first test for Tebboune since his election in December last year that followed mass street protests rejecting Bouteflika’s plan to seek a new term after 20 years in power, and demanding the departure of the whole ruling elite.

“The draft meets the demands of the protest movement,” a presidential statement quoted Tebboune as telling a cabinet meeting to discuss and approve the final draft of the constitution.

The draft will be submitted next week to parliament for endorsement before the referendum.

It includes mainly giving more powers to the parliament, prime minister and the judiciary as well as strengthening political freedoms.

The implementation of this constitutional amendment - if approved by the people - “will require adapting a number of laws to the new stage as part of a comprehensive reform of the state and its institutions,” the statement quoted him as saying, without giving details.

The protests, which broke out in February last year, were followed by a series of trials in which former senior officials, including prime ministers, ministers and businessmen, were jailed over corruption charges.

Demonstrations were banned by the government in March this year to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tebboune said the number of corruption cases handled by courts showed a “trust crisis” between rulers and the people over the past years.

“The end of this crisis is a condition for building a new Algeria in which no one will be protected by immunity and influence,” he said.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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