MPs reinstate presidency term and accept the berber language

MPs reinstate presidency term and accept the berber language

- Algerian MPs officially voted to recognize the Berber language and send the term of presidency to two

- Algeria changes its two term presidency during president Bouteflika's tenure as president

- Algeria like Tunisia and Libya is one of the countries affected by the Arab Spring

MPs reinstate presidency term and accept the berber language

The MPs passed the reforms by 499 votes to two, with 16 abstentions/Credit:BBC

Algerian MPs have passed a package of reforms that endorse recognizing the Berber language official status and reversing the presidential term to two years.

With the recognition of the language, the Berber language can now appear on official documents, although Arabic will remain the language of government.

A two-term limit on the presidency was lifted in 2008 to allow Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a third term. The limit is part of a package of constitutional reforms that authorities say will strengthen democracy.

The scrapping of terms limits allowed Mr Bouteflika to stand for a third term in 2009. The 78-eight-year old president was re-elected again in 2014 but has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke the previous year.

Opposition leaders have however dismissed the changes as superficial.

The Berber language known locally as Amazigh was recognised in 2002 as a national language, meaning it could be taught officially in schools in Berber-speaking regions but Berbers pushed for it to be awarded official status, meaning it would also be accepted on administrative documents.

The Berbers were the original inhabitants of North Africa before the seventh century Arab invasion, and they now make up 13 million of Algeria's 39 million people. Among the other reforms are the promise of an independent electoral commission and recognition of the roles of women and youth.

The president will be required to nominate a prime minister from the largest party in parliament. The changes were among those promised by President Bouteflika following the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.

The package was passed by 499 votes to two, with 16 abstentions, senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah said. Unlike many countries in the region, including its neighbours Libya and Tunisia, Algeria was unaffected by the Arab Spring.

 

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