In September, the governing majority in the National Assembly rejected a bid by opposition lawmakers to force the removal of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on the grounds that he is physically incapable of carrying out the duties of his office. However, a recent public appearance by the president only confirmed the extent of his incapacitation, and the fact that he has not been replaced suggests a lack of consensus within the main governing FLN as to a suitable alternative. Indeed, members of the FLN are still talking about the possibility that Bouteflika might by the party’s candidate in April 2019.

Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune was sacked just three months into his tenure, and replaced by Ahmed Ouyahia, a three-time former prime minister and the leader of the RND, the FLN’s partner in government. It is unclear whether Ouyahia’s return to the prime minister’s post signals an attempt to solidify support within the coalition behind a fifth term for Bouteflika, which would merely prolong the political uncertainty, or has instead positioned the RND leader to succeed the president.

Given Ouyahia’s reputed support among the armed forces brass, his promotion may be an indication that the military has been applying pressure on the FLN to bring an end to the uncertainty surrounding the succession issue. Indeed, the same political forces that have been pushing for the legislature to remove the president have publicly called on the generals to use their influence to avert a political crisis.

Ouyahia’s first major policy initiative of his fourth turn in the prime minister’s post was the release of a five-year fiscal plan that aims to eliminate the massive budget shortfall by 2022. The fiscal deficit averaged 14.5% of GDP in 2015–2016, and is forecast to come in just under 10% of GDP this year.

Controversially, the plan mandates direct borrowing from the central bank to meet the government’s near-term spending obligations. Such a strategy will create a risk of surging inflation and a significant weakening of the currency. It will also enable the government to delay making the unpopular budget choices—such as slashing the $30 billion budget for subsidies— that could undermine the FLN’s chances of retaining the presidency, but are essential to restoring some semblance of fiscal stability over the medium term.

Algeria’s financing woes are compounded by a similarly massive deficit in the current account balance, the result of steep fall in income from oil and gas exports and the country’s heavy dependence on imported goods. Ouyahia canceled the trade restrictions imposed by Tebboune, but is preparing to introduce stricter conditions for financing imports through domestic banks.