On November 1, 2020, Algeria will hold a referendum on the new constitution, the office of president Abdelmadjid Tebboune said on Monday, August 24. The draft of the constitution will be submitted to the parliament before the referendum for debate and approval.
The announcement was made after president Tebboune met with the president of the country’s National Electoral Authority on Monday. “During this meeting and, in light of the consultations of the President of the Republic with the parties concerned, it was decided to set the date of November 1, 2020 for the holding of the referendum on the draft revision of the Constitution,” the press release said.
The proposed constitution would have a limit of two terms for the president and will give more powers to the parliament and the prime minister. The original draft of the present constitution of Algeria adopted in 1989 and revised in 1996 also had term limits for the president. However, it was amended during the long rule of Abdelaziz Bouteflika (1999-2019).
Algeria has had a number of constitutions since its independence from French colonial occupation in 1962. It had its first constitution in 1963. It adopted new constitutions or amended the previous one on several occasions in 1976, 1989, 1996 and 2016.
The proposed new constitution is in response to the demands for large-scale political reforms in the country. The demands were raised by the popular protest movement, known as the Hirak, which has been going on since February 2019, after Bouteflika announced his candidature for the fifth term.
Despite Bouteflika’s resignation in April last year, the protesters continued demanding comprehensive reforms in the country’s political system and action against corruption. The current president Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected in December and had promised to address concerns raised by the protesters. Several politicians, including some former prime ministers, have been jailed on corruption charges. Tebboune had announced the formation of a committee of experts to draft the constitution in January.
The Tebboune government, however, has also taken oppressive measures against the protesters. Several activists and journalists have been arrested and sentenced to various jail terms due to their participation in the protests. In March this year, using COVID-19 outbreak as a pretext, the government also banned all protests in the country.
This article was first punlished in Peoples Dispatch.