Berriane update

A road map and preamble to a charter of peace between Ibadites and Malikites was signed by respective representatives, and the Wali of Ghardaia Yahia Fehim and Daho Ould Kablia, Minister of Local Development and Water Resources on Wednesday. Ould Kablia said the pact would “enable the region to regain its legendary calm, allowing it to return to the path of prosperity.”

The road map, he said, is “just the beginning of a common agreement on the respect of both parties to meet and observe the terms of a contract of brotherhood”. Further, he added the agreement was hard fought because “many external parties have tried to derail the discussions. remember bellicose press releases calling for fitna.” It is mentioned in Liberte that there are demands for Ibadism to be recognized in the constitution, to which Ould Kablia responds that Islam is already the state religion and that this includes 8 rights including Sunni, Shiite and Ibdaite ones. (This is mentioned further down, as well.) “Official delegations” of the Malikite and Ibdite community spoke at the signing ceremony, Bachir Kouader and Daoud Bourguiba, respectively. The signing was used as an opportunity to encourage residents to vote:

“The two factions should prepare themselves for the presidential election because there may be attempts to incite fitna between the two sides on this occasion,” he added. “We shall do our best to avoid any spark that may lead to the outbreak of confrontations again.”

The document will be followed by a “peace charter” in the summer. Last summer, similar efforts failed to bring order to Berriane. Youth violence has gone back and forth for nearly a year due to population pressures, lack of economic opportunity and criminal infiltration. What systemic changes or economic efforts will go into the reconciliation effort are unclear. The regime has sponsored youth initiatives geared towards putting its mark on “reconciliation” in the south.

Ould Kablia told reporters that “there is no foreign hand in the Berriane events, local people started the hostilities which led to all these human tragedies.” He stated that there is not an accurate assessment of the damage in the town but that “measures for compensation [for damages] will be released and some have already been reimbursed,” though where these funds will or have come from is not mentioned. He concludes that the security forces were not complicit in the events, though he recognized that video footage showed “a member of the security forces disguised in a litham [face veil],” and said that the individual has been punished by a “local superior”.

Denounced by Mustapha Hammouche in Liberte as unconstitutional:

The Constitution, which alone holds the hierarchy of legal texts, provides the primacy of the covenants and agreements, but does not include the case of treaties between inter sociocultural entities. What gives the judge to apply the next brawl between a Ibadite and Malekite the Penal Code or the agreement Berriane?

His conclusion is that the constitution is no longer strong enough to “maintain order throughout Algeria”, going on to make a larger point about the importance of individual rights and how tribalism, regionalism, etc. all diminish individual freedoms.

At the end of the day, it remains to be seen what kind of strength the agreement will have. It is an elite compact, formed with state support, as opposed to one between youths. It is unclear from the outside what kind of moral authority the leaders have and how raw the tensions remain. It was not long ago this year that tensions reignited. A more in depth post will follow.

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