January 5, 2016 / 1:26 PM / 4 years ago

Algerian government lays out draft constitutional reforms

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika delivers a speech during a swearing-in ceremony in Algiers April 28, 2014 REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s government on Tuesday unveiled draft constitutional reforms, including a two-term presidency limit, an obligatory consultation with parliament to name prime ministers and making local Amazigh an official language.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika promised a package of amendments to strengthen democracy in the North African state, which since independence from France in 1962 has been mostly governed by the ruling FLN party and the military.

The proposed reforms, which Bouteflika’s cabinet director Ahmed Ouyahia presented to reporters, will go for approval this month before parliament, the last hurdle before being adopted in the constitution.

The president’s allies have a strong majority in parliament.

When the proposals were discussed last year, they included delegating more executive authority to the prime minister and more powers for opposition parties in parliament, as well as reforms for the press and to counter corruption.

Since he was re-elected last year, Bouteflika has not appeared in public, only in brief images on state media. He suffered a stroke in 2013 that left him in a French hospital for months before he returned to Algeria.

Approving the proposed amendments last month, the presidency said they would allow the “deepening of the separation of powers. Analysts say the reforms may also be aimed at helping a stable transition should Bouteflika step down during his fourth term in power.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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