Report says Ghannouchi is playing key role in Algeria’s upcoming election & Libyan negotiations
Translated today by our Mideastwire.com (for a free trial, email email@example.com):
On February 6, the Al-Akhbar daily carried the following report by Mohammad al-Eid: “Rached Ghannouchi’s house has turned into something resembling a pilgrimage site for prominent Algerian figures both within the Algerian Authority and Opposition. There are different interpretations concerning these visits. The head of the Tunisian En-Nahda movement, Rached Ghannouchi, is very respected by Algerian President, Abdulaziz Bouteflika, who is keen on meeting with him periodically to the extent that questions have started to emerge on the point behind his repeated visits to the Algerian capital.
“A week after having received the director of the Algerian president’s office, Ahmed Ouyahia, in his house at the Tunisian capital, the head of the Tunisian En-Nahda movement met, a few days ago, with Abdul Razzak Mokari, the head of the Movement of Society for Peace, which is affiliated to the Islamic movement in Algeria and active in the framework of the Commission for Consultation and Follow-up (the most prominent opposition bloc in Algeria). This gave the impression that this visit, like the earlier visits, falls in the context of the extensive mediation efforts carried out by Algeria to come up with a settlement for the Libyan crisis.
“However, other interpretations were provided to explain this visit because it coincided with the preparations being carried out by the Islamic parties in Algeria to engage in the legislative elections that will be taking place in May. The visit also came following a number of meetings between the head of En-Nahda movement and Algerian officials mainly President Abdulaziz Bouteflika.
“This specific context raised a number of questions on the nature of this meeting and whether it served to transfer some specific messages between the Algerian Authority and the opposition parties especially since the communication channels between the two sides have become quite limited in the past two years. Indeed, the Algerian Authority believes that the opposition has headed in a radical, and unacceptable direction. At the same time, the opposition is criticizing the Authority’s practices, the monopolization of the decision making process and the shutting down of all the dialogue channels.
“This theory is enhanced by the mergers announced by the Islamic parties in Algeria before the elections… The political analyses indicate that the Algerian Authority is worried that these [newly formed] Islamic blocs will revive the ideological polarization in the country especially as Algeria still recalls the massive political and security-related crisis of the 1990s and early 2000… In this case, bets are placed on Ghannouchi since he has an effect on the Islamic movement in Algeria and he could help to prevent the opposition’s speech (mainly the Islamic opposition) from digressing towards radicalism…”