Algerian legislators mark International Democracy Day
By Fidet Mansour for Magharebia in Algiers - 21/09/12
To observe the UN International Day of Democracy, Algerian MPs this week held a conference on what constitutes a true democracy and how to achieve it in light of the Arab uprisings.
"Each country has the right to choose its political system on the basis of its own experience of history, its particular cultural characteristics and the priorities of its own nation-building process," Larbi Ould Khalifa, who chairs the lower house in parliament, argued at the September 17th meeting.
There is no model for the "perfect democracy", he added. "There's no full and final democratic example which could be reproduced in every country around the world."
Specific cultural characteristics, however, do not rule out the existence of general principles accepted by humanity, whether they come from sacred or legal texts, Ould Khalifa noted. The most fundamental of these rights is the right to life, or positive laws enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Algeria has resumed its democratic process following the success of the national reconciliation project, which ended the Black Decade, according to Ould Khalifa. "There is no route to sustainable development and democracy-building if security and peace are not achieved across the country as a whole," he explained.
"Our country has stepped up the pace in the two areas I have mentioned and has implemented a series of deep and far-reaching reforms implemented by the President of the Republic in April last year, the fruits of which have included the success of the legislative elections on May 10th," the official said.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Djemai, who chairs the National Liberation Front (FLN) parliamentary group, defined democracy as "the backbone of all good governance".
MP Fatiha Aouissat stressed the need to strengthen the link between the public and their elected representatives. Deputies need to "listen to the concerns of the people and try to find solutions", according to Aouissat.
"MPs must fully represent the people who elected them to office, working to satisfy their needs," said Senator Bouzid Lazhari. He proposed "redrafting certain laws to give MPs the powers and resources they need to accomplish their mission of public service". He explained that parliaments now face competition from new emerging powers such as the press and NGO mediators.
Saïda Benhabyles, who chairs the Algerian Women's Movement for Solidarity with Rural Families, said: "The problem in our country is the lack of co-ordination between the different institutions." She called for civil society to be involved in their activities.
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