Mass protests expected again in Algeria amid demands for deep democratic reform

Mass protests expected again in Algeria amid demands for deep democratic reform

Thousands of protestors are expected to again take to the streets of Algiers today to demand democratic reform. Hundreds of

algeria mass protests

Photo: AP/Fateh Gudoum

Thousands of protestors are expected to again take to the streets of Algiers today to demand democratic reform.

Hundreds of thousands of Algerians—predominantly youths—protested for a fifth consecutive Friday last week, maintaining momentum behind the anti-government demonstrations that began on February 16.

On Tuesday, army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah said President Bouteflika should be declared unfit to rule, also suggesting that fresh elections could be held within three months. The opposition has dismissed this, insisting the move is an attempt to disarm protestors by promising elections that could well result in another autocrat being installed. Indeed, such a power transition would be managed by allies of the current regime.

Instead, the opposition is demanding the dismantlement of the deep state structures that have ruled Algeria since 1991—an elite group of military officers and business leaders known collectively as ‘le pouvoir’ (‘the power’).

Such wholesale democratic change will not come easily. Indeed, sustained protests may eventually lead to clashes with security forces. A more likely outcome would be concessions from the ruling class, which would mollify some protestors and undermine the movement’s momentum.

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