Algeria’s new prime minister pledges to regain trust

Algerian President Abdelaziz Tebboune (L) receives the newly appointed Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad in the capital Algiers on December 28, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 29 December 2019

Algeria’s new prime minister pledges to regain trust

  • Djerad pledged to work with all Algerians to surmount the economic and social challenges confronting the north African country
  • The initial response on the street to his appointment suggested he has his work cut out

ALGIERS: Algeria's new president on Saturday named as his prime minister an academic turned political insider who vowed to work to win back people's trust after months of street protests.
Abdelmadjid Tebboune, elected this month to succeed ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, asked Abdelaziz Djerad to form a government, the presidency announced in a statement carried by state television.
The 65-year-old premier, who has a Ph.D in political science, struck a conciliatory tone after meeting Tebboune, whose election victory was rejected by protesters as a ploy to keep establishment insiders in power.
Djerad pledged to work with all Algerians to surmount the economic and social challenges confronting the north African country.
"We face a major challenge to win back the trust" of the people, he added.
But the initial response on the street to Djerad's appointment suggested he has his work cut out.
"This change of prime minister is illegitimate since the one who appointed him is illegitimate," said pharmacy student Maassoum.
The people "asked for a new soup. They just changed the spoon," said one of his friends, Amine.
Although from an academic background, Djerad already has experience of the inner workings of the Algerian state, having held posts including general secretary of the presidency from 1993-1995 and the same role at the foreign ministry from 2001-2003.
He replaces Sabri Boukadoum, the foreign minister who was appointed interim prime minister after Tebboune's election win.
Algeria's 10-month-old protest movement has rejected Tebboune as part of the same corrupt system that has ruled since independence in 1962.
Demonstrators have stayed on the streets since Bouteflika resigned in April after two decades in office.
On Friday tens of thousands of Algerians rallied again insisting on a total revamp of the political establishment.
But the demonstration seemed one of the smallest since the start of the unprecedented, peaceful uprising, with some protesters saying school and university holidays had kept people away.
The crowd was outnumbered by the throngs of people who had turned out for the funeral on Wednesday of powerful army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who had become the de facto strongman in the country after Bouteflika quit.
The December 12 election was boycotted by a large part of the electorate.
Tebboune won with 58.1 percent of the vote on a turnout of less than 40 percent, according to official results, and was sworn in on December 19, days before Gaid Salah died of a heart attack at age 79.


Jordan releases travelers quarantined at Dead Sea hotels

Updated 2 min 1 sec ago

Jordan releases travelers quarantined at Dead Sea hotels

  • More than 4,200 Jordanians and 1,500 foreigners have been held at the hotels
  • Jordan has reported 259 infections and three deaths from the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus

AMMAN, Jordan: Jordan on Monday began releasing releasing thousands of travelers who were quarantined for the last two weeks at five-star hotels on the Dead Sea in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
More than 4,200 Jordanians and 1,500 foreigners have been held at the hotels. The Jordanians will be sent home via Uber, the popular ride-hailing service, and are requested to remain at home for another 14 days.
Travelers with other nationalities will be released on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear where they would go, but authorities said they would be in contact with their embassies and the Foreign Ministry.
Jordan has reported 259 infections and three deaths from the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus. At least 18 people have recovered.
The virus causes mild symptoms, including fever and cough, in most patients, who recover within a few weeks. But it is highly contagious and can be spread by people showing no symptoms. It can also cause severe illness and death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems.
The virus has infected more than 720,000 people worldwide, causing more than 34,000 deaths, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. More than 150,000 have recovered.
Jordan halted all flights and closed its borders on March 16. It later imposed a round-the-clock curfew for three days, before providing limited times for people to shop for basic goods on foot.

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