New Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed as part of a shuffle

Ramtane Lamamra was replaced as Foreign Minister by a new candidate on Thursday by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who also reformed the government.

According to the President of the Republic, Ahmed Attaf, who is 69 years old, has taken over the ministry that Mr. Lamamra, 71, had previously led between 1996 and 1999. Mr. Lamamra had been in office since June 2021 following a first tenure between 2013 and 2017 as the head of Algerian diplomacy.

Intense tensions between Algeria and Morocco, particularly in relation to the Sahara dispute, have led to the appointment of a new head of diplomacy in Algeria.

Since Spain, the former colonial government, withdrew in 1975, Morocco and the Polisario front—which is backed by Algeria—have been at odds over the Sahara. While Rabat encourages autonomy under its sovereignty, Polisario asks for a self-determination referendum to be held under the auspices of the UN.

The absence of Mr. Lamamra during Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy significant ,’s two-day visit to Algiers on March 12 and 13 was questioned on Monday by the publication Le Matin d’Algérie. Yet, it was up to him—this is Lamamra—to greet him. Le Matin recounted that people in Algiers speculated about the minister’s potential “health difficulties,” “disgrace,” or disagreements with President Tebboune.

The newspaper remembered Mr. Lamamra’s initiatives to “restore some sparkle to a lifeless diplomacy bequeathed from (Abdelaziz) Bouteflika,” the former Algerian leader who ruled the country for 20 years before stepping down in April 2019 under pressure from the pro-democracy movement Hirak. Abderrahmane Hamad also takes over for Abderezak Sebgag in the Ministry of Youth and Sport and for former Labor Minister Youcef Cherfa in the Ministry of Transport.

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