Algeria’s President Tebboune will be weakened but not overthrown

Algeria

Published on Tuesday, 31 October 2023 Back to articles

Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Last week we raised the question — as each issue of Algeria Politics & Security has done since President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s 26 September decree — about why there has been no discussion, and barely any mention in the media, about the new government that was effectively appointed by his illegal decree which was effectively an attempted ‘constitutional coup’ by the Presidency. 

We suggested that the Presidency was using the Israel-Gaza war to justify its silence. In reality the silence on this unprecedented decree is because Tebboune is facing possibly serious questions to his attempts to create his new state and thereby side-line Army Chief of Staff Army, General Saïd Chengriha.

Although we were correct on both points there is more to it than that. Tebboune’s constitutional coup is illegal and would probably justify his removal from office on the grounds that he is operating outside the country’s Basic Law (i.e. the Constitution). If there were a strong-man — in the mould of former DRS boss Mohamed ’Toufik’ Mediène, or Chengriha’s predecessor General Ahmed Gaïd Salah — they might well have stepped in and arrested him.

But well-informed Algerian sources we have talked to tell us that this simply will not happen. There will be no counter-coup against Tebboune — by the army, intelligence services, or any other party — simply because of the regime’s fear of the West. Such a move against Tebboune would be viewed as a coup d’état like the military one in January 1992 and would be totally unacceptable to the West. The regime would surely be subjected to international sanctions and numerous other moves which would almost certainly lead to the implosion of the regime and its overthrow in one way or another. 

Therefore, although the balance of power has temporarily shifted in Tebboune’s favour, his opponents within the regime will not — despite their disquiet and anger at his actions — move to oust him in any sort of way that might resemble the 1992 situation. Instead, they will continue to weaken and discredit him and thereby make him virtually unelectable for a second term. We are consequently likely to see an intensification of the conflict between the Presidency, the army and the DRS — the collective word used colloquially by Algerians to encompass all the intelligence services — as we get nearer to the presidential election in December 2024. This intensified battle will have two consequences: 

It will simply accelerate and intensify the damage that the regime is already doing to Algeria’s development which is in keeping with the regime’s well-known prioritisation of politics over economics. 

The regime will appear to be unified and especially in its resistance to anything that is seen as external interference. This will apply, in particular, to all attempts to further the rapprochement between Tebboune and President Emmanuel Macron, because the latter is known to favour a Tebboune second term. The army and intelligence services will therefore remain poised to snuff out anything that they perceive as Elysée Palace meddling in order to influence domestic affairs.

This excerpt is taken from our Algeria Politics & Security weekly intelligence report. Click here to receive a free sample copy. Contact info@menas.co.uk for subscription details.

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