Algerian PM refuses to stand down ahead of vote
"I will remain in my post and will not resign," Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia told reporters. "The decision to disband the government belongs to the person who nominated it," he added, referring to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Ahram Online reported.
Bouteflika has promised a number of political and constitutional reforms before the end of January to strengthen democracy in the run-up to the polls. He has also invited international observers to monitor the legislative vote which, he has promised would be the country's most open ever.
But critics say that the proposed reforms are cosmetic. Bouteflika has been president since 1999 and was already a minister in Algeria's first post-independence cabinet in 1962. Islamist movements have come to power or made strong gains in several of the region's countries since the start of the Arab Spring, including in Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Egypt.
In early 1992 the Algerian authorities cancelled the second round of elections that the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party was set to win. That plunged the county into a decade of bloody civil war between government troops and Islamist extremists that is thought to have cost at least 200,000 lives.
But Ouyahia, who leads Algeria's RND ruling party, insisted he did not fear an Islamist coalition in the upcoming election.
Several opposition parties have called for a neutral, technocratic government to ensure free, transparent and credible elections.