Posts Tagged ‘Algerians’

Algerians protest

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Protests have been taking place every Friday in Algeria for 16 weeks as I write this, and the protest I met in London came close to the start of this peaceful call for change.

The protests in Algeria were triggered in the middle of February when the wheelchair-bound President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 on the day of this protest, announced he would stand for yet another term in office in the April elections. People took to the streets to say he had to go and to call for a civilian-led replacement to the military regime.

Bouteflika was coming to the end of his fourth 5-year term in office, heading a repressive and corrupt military government and has hardly been seen in public since a stroke in 2013. Algeria has seen few benefits from its huge earnings from oil and gas exports, much of which is unaccounted for, and almost a third of young people are unemployed.

Although police have used tear gas and violence against the protests in Algeria, unlike in the Sudan the regime (and protesters) have tried to avoid escalation, probably fearing a repeat of the civil war the country suffered in the 1990s. The regime probably fears that many of its soldiers would refuse to carry out orders to attack the protesters.

So since February there have been attempts to conciliate the protesters. In April Bouteflika was forced to resign, and some of his close associates arrested, with the speaker of the parliament Abdelkader Bensalah  being elected as interim President. The protests are now calling for him and others associated with the old regime to also go, including the head of the army, Ahmed Gaid Salah.

I hadn’t been aware that this protest was taking place, and was walking towards Trafalgar Square for another event when I saw the march moving off in the distance and ran to catch up with them. I always take care to read (and photograph) the banners and placards at protests, and with these (at least those that were in English) I was soon clear what this protest was about. Usually when I plan my diary I also do at least a little research about the events and causes, but this time I had to do this after the event.

Algerians say no 5th term for Bouteflika


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