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Tebboune reviews 4 years of his term: Claims versus reality

Abdelmadjid Tebboune est absent depuis un mois. Atteint du Covid-19, il est hospitalisé en Allemagne

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune reviewed his first four years as head of the State, in a speech he gave Monday in front of the Algerian parliament. 

The was a feeling of “déjà-vu” emanating from this task where the outgoing president takes stock of his “indjazates” (accomplishments) in front of parliament members who insist he considers a second term, which he answered with phrases such as “God willing”, “May God gives us strength” and “in the end, through you, we will let the people decide”.

The request was reiterated at the end of the presidential speech with dozens of parliament members shouting “a second term!” at length. 

Tebboune just replied with a hand gesture. The president thus confirmed his willingness to run for a second term, although using the good old methods to do so. 

Tebboune spoke in order to make a state of affairs of what he called the “advances” accomplished thanks to the application of 54 commitments. He did not miss the opportunity to self-congratulate, recalling the difficult context of Algeria in 2019, which was marked by a deep political crisis, commending what he continues to call the “blessed hirak” which allowed, according to him, to save the country from a perilous situation. 

At the heart of his speech was the economy question. Tebboune underlined the challenges  his government faced, including the health crisis and the obstacles caused by what he calls “hostile elements” looking to sabotage their efforts. He shed light on actions against corruption, claiming to have recovered the equivalent of $30 billion in real estate property and industrial units, as well as being in talks with other countries in order to recover funds from abroad. 

The president also raised the subject of the digitalization of the country, promising the end of this task during the first half of 2024. “I insisted on the digitalization of the country because everything was done in opacity. This task will be completed by the end of the first half of 2024”, he said, insisting that the Finance ministry “has already succeeded in this challenge”. 

However, it should be noted that there is a disparity between the claimed accomplishments and the socio-economic reality the population is going through. It is granted that the foreign exchange reserves have increased above $65 billion at the end of 2023 thanks to oil windfall and the increase in hydrocarbon prices, and this in turn seems to indicate an economic improvement. But this did not yield the desired impact on the everyday life of the most improvised Algerians who are still facing precarity. 

Persisting inflation, which approached 10% during the first half of 2023 according to the World Bank, strains the purchasing power of homes. Projections are even expecting an increase in prices above 9% for the current year. Despite the fact that cereal price control mechanisms were strengthened in order to limit the increase in prices of transformed products, this resulted in an increase in public spending on subsidies. 

This is in addition to the infringements on public freedoms and the harassment of journalists and defenders of human rights. 

On the international scene, despite the president’s claims about Algeria’s growing role, the country’s diplomacy was instead marked by contentions with a number of countries, which weekend its régional influence and raised questions related to its diplomatic coherence.