By Ademe Amine
Long-time Algerian Islamist Abdellah Djaballah recently created a new political party, shaking up the conservative political landscape.
Djaballah announced the formation of the Justice and Development Front (FJD) before of a crowd of nearly 1,500 people who had come to attend his party’s inaugural congress July 30th in Algiers. The founder and one-time leader of the Ennahda and El Islah parties appealed to his former colleagues and those in the Islamist movement as a whole to join his new faction.
The announcement did not go unnoticed those by the Islamist movement, which some claim is losing ground in Algeria.
“We have no issues with Mr Djaballah,” said Fatah Rebii, Ennahda secretary-general. “We will contact this new party and engage with him in dialogue as we do with other political parties.” Rebii also did not rule out the idea of an alliance for the 2012 legislative and local elections “if Mr Djaballah wants one”.
Addressing an enthusiastic crowd at the first FJD congress, Djaballah said his group would “campaign for a democratic and social Algeria”, adding that the party was “interested in all national affairs in all sectors”.
“In addition, we want to serve our religion, our country and our nation. A holy trinity. A country and a nation without Islam has no value in the eyes of God. Striving for life and the afterlife is a duty. Victory in life, heaven in the afterlife,” Djaballah said.
The leaders of the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), a moderate Islamist party in the ruling coalition, have said nothing about the new party.
Djamal Ben Abdeslam, a leader of the Islamist El Islah party, described the announcement of a new party as “a non-event”.
“El Islah campaigners know this man well,” he added. “They were with him from the time when he led our party just as he wished and they won’t respond to his appeal today.”
El Islah Secretary-General Hamlaoui Akouchi said, “I don’t think our campaigners will join Djaballah’s party and anyone who wants to leave is free to do so.”
The political arena is open and “free for anyone who wants to create his own party”, Akouchi added. “It’s up to citizens to choose the party they like.”
“We accept plurality within the Islamist movement, just as we accept plurality within other movements such as secular ones”, Akouchi said. “We are not worried about any parties on the political stage as long as they use democratic practices that are far from violence.”
The FJD is the third Islamist political party created by Abdellah Djaballah, who is regarded as one of the most outspoken Islamist leaders and the most critical of government policy. He launched the Ennahda party after democratic reforms in the 1990s before setting up El Islah.