Algerian ruling party holds congress on reforms

Ouyahia

ALGIERS - Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia's party will hold a congress Thursday and Friday to discuss political reforms launched by the president after protests and riots swept the country last year, the RND said in a statement.
The National Rally for Democracy (RND) congress comes as opposition parties call for Ouyahia's government to be replaced by non-committed technocrats ahead of promised legislative elections later this year.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had pledged to carry out reforms in an address to the nation in April after neighbour Tunisia and Egypt were rocked by unprecedented pro-democracy movements that ousted their longtime leaders.
Islamist Ennahda party leader Fateh Rebai said on Wednesday his party was in favour of a government of "neutral technocrats, able to hold free, transparent and credible elections".
"This will be a powerful message for the people and opposition," he said, adding that anything else would lead to a low turnout.
Ennahda would submit its proposal to the president within the next few days, he added.
Lawmakers last month approved contentious reforms laid out by Bouteflika.
Perhaps the most contentious of the new laws approved in Algeria's upper house of parliament on December 22 is a new information.
The law promises press freedoms and an end to the state's media monopoly, but media activists and journalists have voiced disappointment over the law, saying it actually restricts freedom of expression.
Senators also passed a law on "associations", or non-governmental groups. Again, the measure drew scorn from opponents, who said it could impact the ability of foreign non-profits to partner with Algerian groups.
These and other new laws had already been approved by Algeria's lower house.