President Names Algerian Government with Yousfi as Oil Minister

Source: Reuters 5/5/2014, Location: Africa

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika named a new cabinet after his election to a fourth term, reappointing Youcef Yousfi as energy minister who will oversee the North African OPEC nation's efforts to bolster energy production.

Bouteflika, 77, re-elected in April for five more years, did not campaign himself and has spoken only briefly in public since suffering a stroke last year that put him in a Paris hospital for three months.

With the backing of the ruling FLN party, which has mostly dominated Algerian politics since independence in 1962, Bouteflika had been widely expected to win the vote after 15 years in power.

But his health has left questions about who might replace him if he cannot continue and about potential instability in Algeria, a major gas supplier to Europe and an ally in a Western campaign against Islamist militants in the Maghreb.

The new government has promised constitutional reforms to a political system opponents say has long been controlled by a cadre of the FLN elite, army generals and independence-era leaders who see themselves as guarantors of stability.

An energy bidding round to attract foreign oil exploration and production companies to help bolster production this year will be a major challenge along with economic reforms to ease state bureaucracy that has kept investors wary. Analysts said the government was a mix of the ruling FLN and RND parties with junior pro-government allies and technocrats.

Bouteflika had appointed Abdelmalek Sellal as his prime minister after he led the president's election campaign.

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