The leader of Algeria has promised to effect constitutional reforms and high unemployment, among other measures to ward off the kind of civil unrest that has swept across the Arab world.
In a long-awaited speech delivered on state TV, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has ruled Algeria for twelve years, said he seeks to increase democracy in the nation.
He said he will appoint a commission of constitutional law experts to draft the necessary amendments.
To crown the institutional edifice with the aim of strengthening democracy, it is important to introduce the necessary amendments to the constitution, Bouteflika said.
He will also revise the electoral laws.
I will urge the parliament to review all the legislative framework, he added.
To help the poor, Bouteflika said his regime subsidize housing so that everyone have the ability to enjoy their citizenship and no one has more privileges than the others.
He also pledged to stop any embezzlement of national wealth.
Bouteflika, 74, last spoke to the public three months ago – since then Algeria has witnessed some protests and strikes, but nothing on the scale witnessed in neighboring countries.
The president has enacted some concessions, including lifting the state of emergency that had been in place since 1992 during the state waged a deadly civil war against Islamists (a conflict that eventually claimed 150,000 lives).
In addition to political grievances, protesters were also outraged by dramatic increases in food prices.