Algerians hit the streets

UPDATE: Early reports of tens of thousands of demonstrators, taken from news reports citing protest organizers, seem to be incorrect according to Algerian sources as well as news reports. Various reports put the protesters’ numbers at 2-5,000 in Algiers.

Thousands (if not tens of thousands) have taken to the streets in Algiers. Police have arrested and beaten so many demonstrators that jails are full and prisoners are being held in police station corridors or released. Of yet no deaths have been reported. The turn out has dashed most analysts’ expectations: most expected far less. But outside the capital and Oran turnout is less impressive. Locals in Annaba say a small demonstration was broken up early and the city is prepared for a happy Eid al-Mawild; Constantine’s several hundred protestors were sent home by the police. Algiers and Oran are Algeria’s two largest cities. Demonstrators have taken over the small 1 May and 1 November Squares in Algiers and Oran, respectively. Demonstrations have been reported in Tizi Ouzou and other parts of Kabylia. One of the Algiers demonstration’s key organizers and a leader of the CNCD Fadil Boumala has been arrested. One wonders whether the arrest of the demonstrations’ leaders will put down the revolt. The major factor to watch is whether or nor civilians start dying. The turning points in Tunisia and Egypt were when demonstrators were killed by the security forces. The Algerians avoided this in December and January and seem to be relying on mass arrests (in the main cities tens of protestors have been arrested). Thus far it seems the Algerians will need greater numbers to make a major impact on the swarms of police, political establishment and the limitations of the CNCD’s organizing methods. All of this will be thought about in more depth later.

7 thoughts on “Algerians hit the streets

  1. Thanks for your tweets and insights! As you find them please tweet the names of people in Algeria getting the word out. What a time to be alive!

  2. many algerians would prefer that the political changes come in time constitutionally.
    Bouteflika probably did not intend to seek a fourth term in office
    the state of emergency predated bouteflika’s term in office.

    • Constitutional changes would require opening the field to political parties: Allowing them to have equal access to TV and Radio, lifting the state of emergency that allows the authorities to ban any gathering they don’t like, holding honest legislative elections that would truly reflect the Algerian landscape, have an independent judicial system etc. None of which the regime seems in a hurry to implement despite the recent announcements. And then there is the task of uprooting the corrupt business network that feeds on its connections with the regime. Might take 50 years to get this done.

    • @Oussama Benalla –

      Question 1: “Where in the world does a person runs away from his country after being indicted for state funds theft, lives in exile for years, and return as a president?”.

      Answer: “In Algeria”.

      Question 2: “What is the name of the above person?”.

      Answer: “President Abdelaziz Bouteflika”.

  3. Algerians (upright and honest ones) want a radical change of the system Algeria is under for the last 49 years.

    They don’t believe that change and reform will come from an old, corrupt, incompetent, self-serving ramshackle of imposteurs claiming to represent the Algerian people either in government, a fake parliament, a bogus senate and a sham “opposition”. Beni”oui-oui” means Yes-man.

    This “elite” will soon bribe the people with money (social spending) to defuse the tension, but I believe it is too late now! People will take the money and go out to protest at some point.

    Algerian people want freedom, social justice, democracy, free and fair elections, accountability, good governance, no presidents for life, no ministers for life, equal share of oil revenues.

    People want to help build their country and take part in the political process. People want to become active citizens and not brainless digestive tubes.

    Algeria, after half-a-century, with its youth and wealth should have conquered the outer-space by now but unfortunately, due to bad governance and corruption, the country a became a very large army barrack managed by General”Sugar”, General”Spaghetti”, General”Wheat”, Major-General”Coffee”, each General controlling a segment of the economy. What a waiste! Frantz Fanon wrote about this “elite”.

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