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Ahmed Ouyahia ( ) (born July 2, 1952) is an Algerianmarker politician who has been Prime Minister of Algeria since June 2008. He was previously Prime Minister from 1995 to 1998 and from 2003 to 2006. A career diplomat, he also served as Minister of Justice, and was one of the founders and a president of the RND party. He is considered by Western observers as close to the Military of Algeria and a member of the "eradicator" faction in the 1990s civil war against Islamist militants.

Early life

Ouyahia was born in the village of Bouadnane in the Wilaya of Tizi Ouzoumarker in the Kabyliemarker region of Algeriamarker. Following a primary education starting in Algiersmarker in the academic year 1958/1959 and ending in the academic year 1964/1965, Ouyahia followed a secondary education at the Lycee El Idrissi in Algiersmarker starting from the academic year 1965/1966.Ouyahia obtained his diploma of Baccalauréat ès-lettres in 1972.

In 1972, Ahmed Ouyahia joined the entry examination for the "Ecole Nationale d'Administration" of Algiers. Having scored among the top three applicants, along with Ahmed Attaf, Ouyahia joined the Ecole Nationale d'Administration and specialised in Diplomacy. He graduated in 1976 and did his military service from 1976 to 1978, at the El Mouradiamarker compound of the Algerian Presidency where he was a member of the press relations team.

Diplomatic service

In 1979 Ouyahia joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was assigned to the African Affairs Department. In 1980 he was sent as an adviser for foreign affairs to the ambassador of Algeria in Côte d'Ivoiremarker, where he served until 1982. In 1982 he was assigned as a foreign affairs advisor to the Head of the Permanent Mission of Algeria at the United Nations Headquarters in New Yorkmarker. In 1988 Ouyahia became the general director of the African Department of the Algerian Foreign Affairs Ministry. From 1988 to 1989 Ouyahia was co-representative to the United Nations Security Council. He was an adviser to the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1990 to 1991.

He led the African Department until 1991, when he was sent as Algeria's ambassador to Malimarker from 1992 to 1993. There he helped negotiate a 1992 peace deal in the Malian Tuareg Rebellion between the warring Malian government of Alpha Oumar Konaré and the Azawad Tuareg movement: the short lived "Pacte National" treaty. In August 1993, Ouyahia was called back to Algiers to serve in the government of Redha Malek as Under Secretary of State for African and Arab Affairs, Secretary of State for Cooperation and Maghreb Affairs.

Zeroual government

In April 1994 he was nominated as the Cabinet Director of President Liamine Zeroual, where he was in charge of political affairs such as the negotiations with the leaders of the banned Islamic Salvation Front party (FIS) and the preparations of the 1995 presidential elections that President Liamine Zeroual won in November 1995. His role in as a member of the so-called "eradicator" faction, advocating all out war against the insurgency during the Algerian Civil War that killed more than 150,000 on both sides, earned him criticism by some Western Human Rights groups. He is particularly associated with the creation in the late 1990s of the GLD citizen militias ("Legitimate Defence Groups", "Groupes de légitime défense").

Prime Minister 1995-1998

In December 1995 Ouyahia was nominated as Prime Minister and held that position until December 1998, when he resigned following the election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika to the presidency of Algeriamarker. The economic condition of Algeria in the late 1990s, as well as a wave of public sector strikes, contributed to his increasing unpopularity as Prime Minister and his December 1998 resignation. As well, opposition parliamentarians accused Ouyahia of rigging the 1997 elections.

In 2000 Ouyahia was elected leader of his party, the National Rally for Democracy (RND), which he had earlier helped to found.

Bouteflika's governments

He was Minister of State and Justice from 1999 to 2002 under Bouteflika's first government. During this time Ouyahia was assigned the task of securing a peace deal in the war between Ethiopiamarker and Eritreamarker by Bouteflika, who was also President of Organisation for African Unity during the year 2000. Ouyahia worked in conjunction with Anthony Lake, former National Security Advisor to President Bill Clinton of the United Statesmarker, and a peace deal was secured and signed in Algiersmarker in December 2000.

A strong defender of the government, in February 2001, Ouyahia proposed new laws as Justice Minister which would have imposed a 3 year prison term for authors of articles or drawings deemed "defamatory" to political leaders.

Prime Minister 2003-2006

In June 2002, following the defeat of the RND in the 2002 parliamentary election, Ouyahia resigned and was nominated in the next government as Minister of State and Special Representative of the President, an honorary position entailing no governing power. In May 2003, Ouyahia was nominated as Prime Minister for a second time, following a political crisis between President Bouteflika and Prime Minister Ali Benflis, who was dismissed. Ouyahia served as Prime Minister for three years, until his resignation on May 24, 2006 amidst political arguments between Ouyahia's political party and Bouteflika's political party, the FLN.

Economic troubles

Starting on October 14 2003 and lasting through November, the National Council of Secondary and Technical Education Professors (CNAPEST) and the Secondary School Council of Algiers (CLA) went on strike over low wages. Education Minister Boubekeur Benbouzid, backed by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, refused to meet with representatives of either union because they were not officially recognized. Instead, the Government ordered the suspension of more than 300 teachers and threatened further sanctions. only after the officially recognized UGTA affiliate National Federation of Education Workers (FNTE) joined the strike did the agree to raise wages.

The domestic press again asserted that his May 2006 resignation was due to public unpopularity after his opposition to public sector strikes, his opposition to a plan put forward by the rival FNL to raise salaries, and by his support for privatisation of industries.

Human rights

In June 2004, Ouyahia called Al-Jazeera television, recently closed indefinitely by his government "a channel whose sole aim was to tarnish Algeria's image." The channel had broadcast several reports critical of the government the week prior to its closeur.

From 1993 to 2000, around 4,000 men and women “disappeared” in Algeria after being arrested my security forces. Ouyahia has been accused by Western Human rights groups of downplaying the number missing and criticised for claiming that "a large number of the so-called disappeared were in fact in the ranks of terrorist groups."

Kabylie mediator

Ouyahia has been widely credited with mediating a longstanding dispute between Berber leaders from his native Kabyliemarker and the government. In 2005 the government took steps to defuse tensions with the Kabylie and address the concerns of regional leaders. In particular, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia reached agreement on a number of Kabylie grievances with Arouch leader Belaid Abrika, who had been physically assaulted during a public protest rally and seriously injured in 2003 by members of government security services. The accord addressed economic and social concerns and made possible regional elections in November 2005.
Ouyahia made a number of visits to opposition leaders, and reached out in the Berber language media for reconciliation.

Prime Minister 2008

After some prominent involvement in international diplomatic meetings earlier in 2008, Ouyahia was again named Prime Minister by Bouteflika on June 23, 2008. On this occasion, he pledged "to continue to apply the policy programme of the President of the Republic". The foreign and domestic press have commented on the sometime stormy relations between Ouyahia and Bouteflika, which has not stood in the way of his Prime Ministership.


  1. Bio express : Ahmed Ouyahia. Jeune Afrique. 9 June 2009.
  2. Voices of the Dead Echo Across Algeria. CRAIG S. SMITH, New York Times Sunday, April 18, 2004
  3. Document - Algeria: Truth and justice obscured by the shadow of impunity. MDE 28/011/2000. Amnesty International. 8 November 2000
  4. Algeria to Arm More Civilians for Fight Against Islamic Militants.New York Times. Thursday, January 22, 1998
  5. Armed Conflicts Report, Algeria. Ploughshares (Canada). Update: January 2008. "... Disliked by the press and the population at large, Ouyahia is blamed not so much for the continuing massacres of civilians as for the decline in living conditions." quoting Le Monde 20 December 1998.
  6. Jostling elites begin race to lead Algeria to peace. Karen Thomas. The Guardian. 12 February 1999 "...Ahmed Ouyahia, the unpopular prime minister who resigned in December."
  7. ALGERIA: PREMIER QUITS. New York Times. 15 December 1998. "Opposition members accused Mr. Ouyahia of rigging the 1997 parliamentary elections in favor of the majority party, and demanded his resignation as a signal that the approaching elections would be fair. Mr. Ouyahia had been denounced for not turning around a declining economy, or ending attacks by radical Islamic guerrillas." Craig Pyes (NYT)
  8. Human Rights Watch World Report 2002 - Algeria. Human Rights Watch. 17 January 2002
  9. The Middle East and North Africa 2003. Europa Publications. Routledge, 2002 ISBN 1857431324 p. 169.
  10. Algeria: 2003. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. February 25, 2004
  11. Algeria’s new PM to revise constitution, hike pay. Ouyahia resigns after his intransigence in face of repeated strikes by teachers, vets, doctors, workers. Middle East Online. 2006-05-25 "Daily newspaper Le Jeune Independant said Thursday that Ouyahia, who resigned on Wednesday night, had been scuppered by his own opposition to an increase in public salaries.The former president had become highly unpopular since he came out against the general salary increase proposed by the unions and supported by the FNL, led by Belkhadem, in January. Ouyahia's unpopularity was exacerbated by his intransigence in the face of repeated strikes by teachers, vets, doctors, and by workers who claimed their jobs were threatened by the privatisation of public sector organisations, which the former prime minister was determined to push through."
  12. 2004 Report on Human Rights Practices: Algeria. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. February 28, 2005
  13. Document - Algeria: Mothers and other relatives of the "disappeared" arrested and threatened. MDE 28/02/00. Amnesty International. 15 March 2000
  14. X. The International Community on a Treadmill, Time for Reckoning (Algeria). Human Rights Watch. February 26, 2003
  15. Algeria: Human Rights Report 2001. Human Rights Watch. 2001. Accessed 2009-06-09.
  16. Algeria 2005. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. March 8, 2006
  17. Isabelle Werenfels. Managing instability in Algeria: elites and political change since 1995. Routledge, 2007 ISBN 0415403448 p.73
  18. Algeria Seeks Peace With Berber Ethnic Minority. New York Times June 2, 2003
  19. "Algerian president brings back Ouyahia for third stint as PM", AFP, June 23, 2008.
  20. Ouyahia peut-il durer ? Cherif Ouazani, Jeune Afrique. 9 June 2009.

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