Bouteflika Appoints new Security Chiefs, as French FM Makes Controversial Visit to Algeria
Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika appointed new security officers in charge of keeping law and order in some regions where terrorist actions have increased recently, reported El Khabar daily on Tuesday.
On the same day, Algeria received French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine who is on a controversial visit during which he is expected to discuss "concrete problems" with officials.
According to El Khabar, it is the first time ever the president himself decides to appoint such a personnel. In normal times, it said, it is up to the ministry of interior to appoint the officers in charge of supervising the “patriots,” a body involved in the anti terrorist actions.
One of the officers has been appointed to supervise the district of Chlef where many terrorists actions have been undertaken recently causing the death of tens of civilians, said the daily.
According to AFP, Vedrine has been criticized in Paris for traveling to Algiers at a time when the North African country's human rights record is under attack, notably over charges that the security forces may be involved in nine years of Islamist violence against civilians.
The French foreign minister was welcomed at the airport by his Algerian counterpart, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, and is also due to meet Bouteflika.
The trip comes also amid criticism over Algeria's failure to end the decade-long conflict against armed Islamic fundamentalists, criticism fanned by a recent book by a former Algerian army officer who fled to France after accusing his colleagues of massacring civilians, said the agency.
In "The Dirty War," Habib Souaida, 32, an officer in Algeria's airborne special forces, alleged that massacres committed by Algeria's armed Islamic militant rebels were more than matched by the military's own atrocities.
He told French radio on Tuesday that he would return to testify if an international commission of inquiry was set up, though he doubted such a commission could be formed. He also accused the West of turning a blind eye to the killings, said AFP.
Vedrine made no mention of the controversy on his arrival, only saying he had come to tackle "concrete problems" between the two countries, expected to include the thorny issue of freedom of movement between the two countries.
"Talks have been progressing and we are now seeking to move forward. I am sure we are going to work well together," he said at the airport.
Algeria's troubles, which broke out after the military stepped in to prevent the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) from winning democratic elections, has claimed over 100,000 lives.
The President’s national accord plan, by which he awarded amnesty to militants who hand themselves to authorities, has proven futile after hundred of civilians have been killed brutally in the recent months – Albawaba.com
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