Controversial Press Law Enters Algerian Parliament
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has submitted a new media law to parliament as part of a promised package of reforms, which removes criminal penalties for defamation and replaces them with fines. Bouteflika promised a host of reforms, including a freer press, when protests swept across North Africa and into Algeria. The new bill includes 132 articles and is focuses to the opening up of television to the private sector. Mohamed Mahmoudi of the Movement for a Peaceful Society told a plenary session of parliament: ”This is a net step backwards and a freeze in the sector of the media, in contradiction with international standards.” Conversely, Communications Minister Nacer Mehal said that the aim of the law was “a better protection of journalists on the socio-professional front,” and that “the government commits itself to respecting all freedoms and above all the freedom of expression in the framework of the laws of the republic.”
Additionally, Algeria and Morocco signed a series of agricultural co-operation agreements covering a variety of issues. ”The signing of these agreements marks the beginning of a co-operation process which we want to be strong,” commented Algerian Agriculture Minister Rachid Benaissa. Algeria’s Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia also recently hosted Qatar’s Energy Minister Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada to discuss bilateral relations.