Last February started what some call the Algerian Revolution. Facing the will of president Bouteflika to run for elections for the fifth time, the Algerian people decided to take to the streets, and the protests have not wavered ever since.
To help us understand better the situation, the Mediterranean and Middle East Research and Studies Institute (iReMMO) organized a meeting with four prominent intellectuals on 12 January 2019. On this occasion, Farida Souiah, Akram Belkaïd, Nadji Safir and Farid Alilat provided us with some explanations.
Alilat is a reporter in the newspaper Jeune Afrique (“Young Africa”). He opened the meeting with one central word: “uncertainty”. Indeed, despite the end of the Bouteflika system, no one truly knows how this revolt is going to end. In front of a power whose mechanisms are opaque, it could give birth to a true democratic transition, but it could also end up running out of steam. It is, at any rate, the participants’ point of view. It is especially the case of A. Belkaïd, reporter for Le Monde diplomatique (“The Diplomatic World”) and recent author of the book Algeria in 100 questions. An impeached country.
Nonetheless, as F. Souiah explains it well, the protestors are demanding and very mature politically. Far from mistaking elections for democracy, Algerians, and especially young people, keep constant pressure on the new power, embodied by the chief of the Defense Staff, Ahmed Gaïd Salah. Having successfully obtained the demission of President Bouteflika, the protestors now demand a reconsideration of the anti-human right laws, especially the family code, the arbitrary imprisonment tools, or even the sources of discriminations between men and women. Indeed, the latter play a very important part in the protest. Nowadays, almost two thirds of students, who are at the heart of the social movement, are women, breaking with the caricatural visions that can sometimes be conveyed concerning this country.
What about Europe?
Just like a perfect illustration of the right of peoples to self-determination, the Algerians reject the idea of any foreign intervention in the democratic transition. Moreover, the support of President Emmanuel Macron to the possibility of an extended fourth mandate, a few months ago, was met with strong criticism from the demonstrators. Food for thought; the European Union and its members may now have only one thing to do, that is, express their support in favor of more Fundamental Rights, in Algeria and everywhere else.
Nicolas P. Chargé de mission AEDH