Algeria's Bouteflika names new ministers months after stroke

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 11, 2013 12:45 PM
Algeria's Bouteflika names new ministers months after stroke

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika named new ministers for foreign affairs, the interior and justice on Wednesday in a major resumption of political activity since he suffered a stroke in April.

The North African oil and gas producer's prime minister and its finance and energy ministers kept their posts in the reshuffle, the state APS news agency reported.

Bouteflika, 76, returned from a French hospital in July, and state media have since released pictures of him meeting officials and said he was recuperating.

Observers and analysts said Wednesday's changes were likely aimed at trying to strengthen Bouteflika's allies ahead of presidential elections in April 2014 when he is not expected to stand.

APS quoted a presidential statement naming Ramtane Lamamra, an African Union official, as foreign minister, and Tayeb Belaiz as interior minister. It also named a justice and vice defense minister.

Energy minister Youcef Yousfi, finance minister Karim Djoudi and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal stayed on, APS said.

Bouteflika is part of an elite that has controlled Algeria since it won independence in a 1954-62 war.

In the early 1990s, the military-backed politicians overturned an election which Islamists were poised to win and then fought a conflict with them in which about 200,000 people were killed.

Re-elected for a third term in 2009, Bouteflika has not said whether he will run again after ruling the country for more than a decade.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Editing by Patrick Markey and Andrew Heavens)