President names new Algerian government with Yousfi as oil minister

Reuters News
Posted: May 05, 2014 10:40 AM

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ALGIERS, May 5, Reuters - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has named a new cabinet after his election to a fourth term, reappointing Youcef Yousfi as energy minister in the North African OPEC oil producer, state news agency APS reported on Monday.

Bouteflika, re-elected in April for five more years, did not campaign himself and has spoken only briefly in public since suffering a stroke last year that put the 77-year-old in a Paris hospital for three months.

With the backing of the ruling FLN party, which has mostly dominated Algerian politics since 1962 independence, Bouteflika had been widely expected to win the vote after 15 years in power.

But his health has left questions about who might replace him if he cannot continue, and about potential instability in Algeria - a major gas supplier to Europe and an important ally in a Western campaign against Islamist militants in the Maghreb.

The new government has promised constitutional reforms to a political system opponents say has long been controlled by a cadre of the FLN elite, army generals and independence-era leaders who see themselves as guarantors of stability.

An energy bidding round to attract foreign oil exploration and production companies to help bolster production this year will be a major challenge along with economic reforms to ease Algeria's state bureaucracy that has kept investors wary.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Louise Ireland)