Algeria’s parliament has overwhelmingly approved a new constitution aimed at reforming the country by limiting presidents to two terms and recognizing the language used by its Berber minority as official.
The text was presented today to the assembly and the senate with 499 lawmakers voting for it, two against and 16 abstentions. The reforms were promised by 79-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his government following the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings in neighboring countries.
Trumpeting the victory, Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said “history will remember that you all have contributed to a renewed republic, to which the people can aspire.”
The new constitution limits presidents to two five-year terms, even though the long-ailing Bouteflika was re-elected for a fourth term himself in 2014. It also requires a parliamentary majority to name a prime minister, who is now appointed by the president.
It also includes Amazigh as an official language. The move was hailed by activists, who had pushed for the recognition for years. Arabic will remain the country’s official government language.