April 20, 2019
ALGIERS (Reuters) – An Algerian court has summoned former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and current Finance Minister Mohamed Loukal, two associates of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in a probe into wasting of public money, state TV said on Saturday.
They are being investigated over “dissipation of public money” and “illegal privilege,” state TV said.
No more details were immediately available.
The move comes after army chief, Lieutenant General Gaid Salah, said last week he expected to see members of the ruling elite in the major oil and natural gas-producing country prosecuted for corruption.
Bouteflika stepped down after 20 years in power two weeks ago, bowing to pressure from the army and weeks of demonstrations mainly by young people seeking change in the country.
But the protests, which began on Feb. 22 and have been largely peaceful, have continued as many want the removal of an elite that has governed Algeria since independence from France in 1962 and the prosecution of people they see as corrupt.
Ouyahia served several times as prime minister under Bouteflika and is also head of the RND party, the coalition partner of Bouteflika’s ruling FLN party.
Loukal was central bank governor under the former president.
Bouteflika has been replaced by Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, as interim president for 90 days until a presidential election on July 4.
Hundreds of thousands protested on Friday to demand the resignation of Bensalah and other top officials.
Bensalah appointed Ammar Haiwani as acting central bank governor, state TV earlier said. The position had been vacant since Loukal was made finance minister by Bouteflika before he had resigned.
(Reporting by Hesham Hajali, Lamine Chikhi and Hamid Ould AhmedWriting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)