Algerian government names new Cabinet, including seven Islamic moderates
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has named his first post-election Cabinet, maintaining the regime’s leaders in the main positions but granting Islamic moderates seven posts, the government said.
President Liamine Zeroual, a retired general, holds on to the defense portfolio in the 40-member Cabinet following the June 5 parliamentary election, the first during a 5-year-old Muslim insurgency.
Ahmed Attaf remains foreign minister, Mohamed Adami justice minister, Mustapha Benmansour interior minister, Abdelkrim Harchaoui finance minister and Youssef Yousfi energy and mines minister, the government said in a statement late Wednesday.
Most of the positions are held by Zeroual’s National Democratic Rally (RND), which took 156 of the lower parliament’s 380 seats in the balloting.
Seven ``technical″ portfolios were given to the Movement for a Peaceful Society (MSP), known as Hamas, though not related to the violent Palestinian group. The party took 69 seats in the election.
The ministries that went to the MSP included industry, transport, tourism, fishing and environment.
The National Liberation Front, the former ruling party, won 62 seats and was given seven ministries.
The election and the new Cabinet were part of Zeroual’s effort to widen the government’s political base to carry out needed market-oriented economic reform and combat the insurgency.
Attacks by insurgents have continued since the election, however.
The daily El Watan newspaper said Wednesday the militants had killed 70 people in recent days with armed attacks and a bombing in the region of M’sila, about 190 miles southeast of Algiers.
The national government did not immediately confirm the attacks, though local officials from the region said Tuesday that 18 people had been killed last week in the village of Mouzaia.
Muslim militants launched their insurgency after the military-backed government canceled a 1992 parliamentary runoff the now-banned Islamic Salvation Front was expected to win. More than 60,000 people have died in the ensuing violence.