Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Algeria inspired by NYC's example

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria took a page out of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s playbook and pushed a compliant parliament to approve abolishing term limits, permitting the leader to run for a third term. It was approved today 500-21.

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg had his city council eliminate his term limits in October, nullifying popular voter referenda creating and affirming the limits in 1993 and 1996.

The Associated Press notes that in Algeria, just as in New York City, critics complained that the decision should have been made by a referendum, not a vote of the parliament. Further, “Some observers said a huge recent salary increase for lawmakers helped smooth passage of the elimination of the two-term limit.”

Sadi, the head of the opposition RCD secular party, also criticized the procedure of the vote. He objected to the fact that the vote was held by raised hands instead of by secret ballot, which prevented legislators from "exerting their free choice on this issue.”

Predictably, Bouteflika called the vote “historic” and said it would “enshrine … solid and durable institutions.” Yes, notably the Bouteflika administration.

Just as in New York, Bouteflika and his legislature pointed to a "national emergency" as the imperative to scrap term limits. He claims says that consistency in rule is important and can help boost democracy in the Africa nation.

"As with many other potentates elsewhere in the world," retired Algerian general Rachid Benyelles told Reuters, politely declining to mention Mayor Bloomberg by name, "he has always wanted to be a president for life."