Algeria’s Bouteflika proposes constitutional amendments, term limits

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika promised constitutional reforms after winning an April election

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika proposed a two-term presidential limit and delegating more authority to the prime minister’s post as part of constitutional amendments after his re-election, a government source said on Thursday.

Bouteflika, 77, offered reforms to strengthen democracy after winning an April ballot to secure his fourth five-year term in office despite suffering a stroke last year that raised questions over his ability to govern.

Opponents say politics in the North African OPEC oil producer has been mostly dominated since the end of French colonial rule by the ruling Front de Liberation Nationale party and the army, who resist any deep change.

The source said the 47 proposed amendments, which were distributed to political parties on Thursday, also included lifting controls on the media and giving parliament more ability to question government officials.

Most of Algeria’s opposition leaders - including secular and Islamist rivals - have already rejected Bouteflika’s proposal, dismissing the invitation as a move to co-opt them rather than an attempt at real reform.

The Algerian leader’s allies removed term limits on the presidency to allow him to run for a third term five years ago.

Political parties have been invited to debate the new reforms in June before the proposal goes to the constitutional committee for review and likely a referendum for final approval.

Bouteflika’s ill health has raised questions about a potential transition in Algeria, a major gas supplier to Europe and a key ally in Washington’s fight against Islamist militancy in the Maghreb.