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The 2019 Algerian protests, also called the Smile Revolution,[6][7] began on 16 February 2019, ten days after Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his candidacy for a fifth presidential term in a signed statement. These protests, without precedent since the Algerian Civil War, have been peaceful and led the military to insist on Bouteflika's immediate resignation, which took place on 2 April 2019.[8] By early May, a significant number of power-brokers close to the deposed administration, including the former president's younger brother Saïd, had been arrested.[9][10]

2019 Algerian protests
Manifestation contre le 5e mandat de Bouteflika (Blida).jpg
Protesters on 10 March 2019 in Blida.
Date16 February 2019 (2019-02-16) – ongoing (119 days)
Location
Caused by
  • Opposition to President Bouteflika's 5th term, regime and corruption
Goals
Resulted in
  • Bouteflika drops bid for fifth term
  • Resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia
  • Presidential elections postponed indefinitely
  • Government of national unity formed to write new constitution
  • Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah calls on the constitutional council to remove Bouteflika from office
  • Resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Parties to the civil conflict
Protesters
Lead figures
  • No organized leadership
Casualties
Death(s)2[2][3][4](under unclear circumstances)
Injuries183 (112 police officers)[1]
Arrested195[5][1]

The rising tensions within the Algerian regime can be traced back to the beginning of Bouteflika’s rule which has been characterized by the state’s monopoly on natural resources revenues used to finance the government’s clientelist system and ensure its stability.[11] The major demonstrations have taken place in the largest urban centers of the country throughout the months of February, March and April 2019. Due to their significant scale, the protests have attracted international media coverage and provoked reactions from several heads of states and scholarly figures.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Abdelaziz BouteflikaEdit

 
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, The former President of Algeria from 1999 to 2019.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been president of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria since 1999. Two amnesties (via referendum) for former combatants in the Algerian Civil War had taken place during his presidency (1999 and 2005). This "dirty war" between Islamic guerrillas and the government had claimed up to a contested number of approximately 200,000 lives from 1991–2002.[12][13] Nearly half of the Algerian population was born after the end of the conflict, amidst the din of repeated corruption scandals.

With the accession to power of Bouteflika in 1999, he began a diplomatic mission to rehabilitate Algeria's image abroad, and especially after his reelection in 2004, to consolidate power.[8] Over his tenure as president, the power center in Algerian politics shifted from the east to west, most particularly to Tlemcen, whose sons became highly placed media, political, and police figures. $10 billion of public funding flowed to the city for construction projects, including a university, hotels, museums and airports. €155m was spent on a state residence, which remains incomplete. Many of the public works contracts were accorded to Chinese companies by whom local contractors were allegedly not always paid.[14]

Oil-rich during the Arab Spring, the government was able to quiet dissent during the 2010–2012 protests with increased spending.[15]

 
University of Tlemcen.

The constitutional revision of 2016 limited the number of presidential terms that could be served to two, but nevertheless allowed Bouteflika to seek a fifth term, because the law was not retroactive.[16]

Since 2005, and especially after his stroke in 2013, Bouteflika's ability to govern the country was called into question: rumors of his death were frequent as he was often hospitalized, no longer spoke and made very few written statements.[17] In this context, some Algerians considered his announced candidacy for the presidential election, originally scheduled for 18 April 2019, to be humiliating.[18]

CorruptionEdit

Members of Bouteflika's administration have been accused of engaging in corrupt practices at several instances. In 2010, Sonatrach, the state-owned oil and gas company, suspended all of its senior management after two of the company's vice-presidents were imprisoned for corruption. Algeria's Energy Minister Chakib Khelil announced that the president of the company and several executives have been placed under judicial supervision.[19][20] In 2013, Khelil was also accused of receiving a bribe from a subsidiary of the Italian energy company Eni.[21] According to El Watan, overbilling for public works and misleading descriptions of imported goods are two common corrupt practices, facilitated by cronyism at the highest levels.[22]

On 26 June 2018, Bouteflika dismissed Abdelghani Hamel as head of the national police (DGSN), despite the latter being part of his inner circle. This news came after one of Hamel's drivers had become a suspect in Cocainegate, which led a general of the gendarmerie, four judges and two public prosecutors to be tried for bribery.[23][24]

MonumentalismEdit

Djamaa el Djazaïr, a large mosque under construction in Algiers, is nicknamed the Great Mosque of Bouteflika. Its minaret is 55m higher than the Hassan II Mosque in Morocco. Though its construction was touted as an Algerian job-creater, immigrant workers did most of the work for China State Construction Engineering while living in prefab shantytowns around the construction site. The project still came in 2.5 times over-budget. The cost of the mosque's construction has been estimated to be between $1.4 and $2 billion.[25][26] A doctor quoted in Le Monde complained that "with $4 billion [sic], 200 hospitals could have been built." Converting the mosque into a hospital has been suggested. For the Algerian press, it became a symbol of the mis-management of public funds and of the "capricious megalomania" of the former President.[27][28][29]

Broadly, cumulative demands, grievances and aspirations were at the heart of the protest movement. Decades long of economic stagnation, unemployment, labour market segmentation, chronic corruption fuelled discontent. Plummeting of oil and gas prices weakened the regime's capacity to continue buying off some sections of the lower classes and the youth and contain discontent.[30]

TimelineEdit

Early daysEdit

In December 2018, calls for demonstrations in the neighborhood of Bab El Oued against the fifth term went unheeded, except by the police, which mobilized a significant dissuasive force.[31][32]

The protest was at first limited geographically to northern Algeria.[33] The first major demonstration took place on 16 February 2019 in Kherrata, at the eastern end of the wilaya of Bejaia.[34] In Khenchela, on 19 February, a giant poster of the President of the Republic was torn down from city hall and trampled. Two days later, another suffered a similar fate in Annaba.[35] This form of protest was related to the recent practice of offering gifts to a framed portrait of Bouteflika in the latter's absence.[36][37][38]

Week 1: 22–28 FebruaryEdit

Protests were organized via social media in major and mid-sized cities on 22 February. Those in Algiers—where street protests had been illegal since a demonstration on 14 June 2001, "when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from Kabylie converged on the capital"[39]—were the biggest in nearly 18 years.[40][18] Smaller protests, with slogans like "There is no president, there's a poster," had been taking place in Algiers since 11 February.[41][42] On 22 February, the portrait of the President was torn down from the landmark central post office.[43] There are no official government numbers published, but one expert put the number of demonstrators at 800,000 on 22 February 2019.[18][44]

Regularly hospitalized for "periodic medical examinations", Abdelaziz Bouteflika was admitted to the University Hospital of Geneva (Switzerland) on 24 February 2019.[45]

Another large-scale demonstration took place on 24 February at the call of the Mouwatana movement ("citizenship"),[46] On 28 February, a dozen journalists were arrested during protests against press censorship.[47]

Week 2: 1–7 MarchEdit

Three million people were estimated to have demonstrated on 1 March 2019, though no official figures were given.[48] The private channel Dzaïr News reported that one million people demonstrated across Algeria on 1 March, which was also the first time state television broadcast images of the protests.[49]

183 people were injured and Hassan Benkhedda, son of former interim government president, Benyoucef Benkhedda, died of a heart attack.[50][51] Speaking as Interior Minister, Noureddine Bedoui confirmed that it was related to police action against "thugs unrelated to the protestors."[52]

On 2 March 2019, Abdelaziz Bouteflika replaced his campaign director, the former prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal, who had actively campaigned for the President since 2004, by the virtually unknown Abdelghani Zaalane [fr; ar], a career provincial administrator. Considered to be a response to the ongoing protests,[53] this dismissal followed the disclosure of a recording between Sellal and Ali Haddad in which the former is heard making threats.[54]

The deadline for submitting candidatures for the presidential election was 3 March 2019.[53] The idea of postponing the election was put forward.[55] On 3 March, the candidacy of Bouteflika was filed by his campaign director, though the law stipulates that the candidate must be physically present for this process.[56] Another signed message announced that if re-elected, a national conference would be convened to adopt reforms as well as a new Constitution – to be approved by referendum – and that he would not take part in the next presidential election which he promised would be held early.[57][58] After the confirmation of Bouteflika's candidacy on Sunday, 3 March, and the withdrawal of several opposition candidates, including Ali Benflis and Louisa Hanoune,[59] an anonymous call to strike was made the next day, as well as a call to protest on 8 March.[60]

Even before the candidacy was formalized, tens of thousands of protesters were out on the streets.[61] From Sunday night to Monday morning, hundreds of protesters marched peacefully,[62] calling his candidacy a "provocation", an "insult" and a "masquerade".[63] The next day, many students boycotted their classes.[64]

The opposition, meeting at the headquarters of the Justice and Development Front, called for candidates to withdraw from the election.[65] On the same day, following the example of the resignation the day before of Khaled Tazaghart, an elected representative (député) from the El Moustakbal party, & former minister Sid Ahmed Ferroukhi (FLN), resigned from the party.[66] Zahir Kherraz, FLN mayor of Oued Amizour, also said he did not support a fifth term.[67] Amar Benadouda (1931), doyen of the mayors of the country, resigned from the town hall of Guenzet.[68]

On Tuesday, protests and student strikes continued, thousands were in the streets of Algiers,[69] Constantine,[70] Oran, Annaba, Bejaia, Tizi Ouzou, Bouira, Blida, Setif, or Tlemcen.[71] On Thursday, a thousand lawyers demonstrated in Algiers.[72]

The "Pacifist and Civilized Walkers' 18 Commandments", written by Lazhari Labter [fr], were widely circulated on social media prior to the 8 March demonstration.[73][74]

Week 3: 8–14 MarchEdit

In reaction to the Friday demonstrations, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research moved the spring university holidays forward to the next day (10 March) and extended them by two weeks in an effort to calm matters down.[75] On 10 March, the Army Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah, close to Bouteflika, gave a speech to officer cadets saying the "army and the people had a common vision of the future". This speech was front-page news in El Khabar.[76] A 5-day general strike was begun the same day.[77]

The day after the announcement that Bouteflika would not seek a new term, that Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui had replaced Ahmed Ouyahia as prime minister, and that the presidential election was to be postposed sine die, university students protested for the third consecutive Tuesday across the country chanting "No Tricks, Bouteflika."[78] On Wednesday, teachers protested. On Thursday, lawyers and judges were on the streets in several cities.[79] On 14 March, Djamila Bouhired encouraged the younger generation demonstrating, saying: "Your elders liberated Algeria from colonial domination, and you are giving back to Algerians their liberties and their pride despoiled since independence"[80]

The protests on 15 March were estimated to have been larger than those the previous Friday.[81] The Guardian reported that hundreds of thousands were in the streets,[82] La Croix put the number at over a million.[83] Protesters carried a banner criticizing France's comments that the cancellation of elections should lead to a "transition of reasonable length" saying, "It's the people who decide, not France!". Other signs included "Macron, deal with your yellow vests" and "Elysée, stop ! It's 2019, not 1830."[81]

Week 4: 15–21 MarchEdit

On 17 March, the newly appointed Prime Minister announced the intention of forming a government of politically unaffiliated experts, which would "reflect the demographics of the Algerian society".[84] Students were again in the streets on Tuesday, 18 March demanding that Bouteflika step down by the end of his term (28 April). The army chief of staff said that the army needed to deal with the crisis.[85]

Week 5: 22–28 MarchEdit

On 26 March, in a speech given in Ouargla and covered live on Algerian television, Ahmed Gaid Salah urged the Constitutional Council to declare Bouteflika unfit. The Council began deliberations the same day. If the sitting president is removed, the president of the Council of the Nation—currently Abdelkader Bensalah—becomes acting president for a maximum of 90 days while elections are organized.[86] On 27 March, Ahmed Ouyahia called on Bouteflika to resign.[87] The same day the Workers' Party announced the resignation of their elected members of the People's National Assembly.[88]

Week 6: 29 March–4 AprilEdit

On Friday 29 March, the Algerian authorities denied Reuters' reports that there were a million protesters in the capital, but did not put forward numbers of their own.[89]

Bouteflika named a new government on 31 March 2019 two days before his resignation.[90]

Investigations were opened into a dozen oligarchs who were prevented from leaving the country. Ali Haddad's resignation from the FCE—an employers federation, which had seen a wave of recent resignations over his remarks about the protests[91]—and his subsequent arrest at the Tunisian border were widely reported.[92]

Bouteflika made a statement promising to step down by the end of his term, but equivocating as to the actual date. The following day, the Army Chief of Staff (who had been appointed by Bouteflika to replace General Mohammed Lamari after his 2004 election)[8] insisted both privately and publicly that he resign immediately, which he did.[93][94] As provided for under Article 102 of the Algerian Constitution, Abdelkader Bensalah became acting interim President.[95][96] His term can last for a maximum of 90 days while a presidential election is held. By law, he cannot participate in this election.[96]

James McDougall wrote that the military had "recognized that radical measures were needed to save the system." Though it had regained some power at the expense of the "clan" centered around Saïd Bouteflika—including the Armed Forces chief of staff—McDougall added that "[s]ome observers and activists believe that the army as an institution now wants to stay out of politics and might even support the "clean-up" of corruption that protesters demand."[97]

Week 7: 5–11 AprilEdit

The streets were again exuberant and crowded with hundreds of thousands on Friday 5 April, with marchers carrying signs demanding further resignations, specifically mentioning the 3B: Noureddine Bedoui (prime minister), Abdelkader Bensalah (who was officially appointed acting interim president on 9 April)[98], and Tayeb Belaiz (head of the constitutional council); as well as the Army Chief of Staff.[99]

Tear gas and a water cannon were used repeatedly to prevent more than a thousand students chanting "Slimiya, Slimiya" (peaceful, peaceful) from going through the Tunnel des Facultés in Algiers on the 8th successive Tuesday of student demonstrations.[100]

Week 8: 12–18 AprilEdit

The Friday protests, of the same size as previous weeks, were more conflictual, with police blocking access to the city and parts of the city.[citation needed] On 16 April, the president of the constitutional council, Tayed Belaiz—one of the three Bs whose ouster protesters sought—informed the council that he had submitted his resignation.[101][102]

Week 9: 19-25 AprilEdit

The size of the protests on 19 April was similar to previous weeks.[citation needed] Ennahar TV reported that five billionaires were arrested on 22 April 2019: four brothers from the Kouninef family, close to Saïd Bouteflika, and Issad Rebrab, the CEO of Cevital.[103] The head of Cevital's communications department denied the reports.[104] A judge also called in the former prime minister and the current finance minister for questioning.[103]

Week 10: 26 April-2 MayEdit

On Friday 26, thousands of protesters gathered in Algiers for the tenth week despite attempts by the authorities to close all entrances to the capital. Banners auch as "The system must go" and "We are fed up with you," were raised in city centre. Earlier, Algeria's richest businessman and three other billionaires were arrested in an-going investigation on corruption.[105]

Week 11: 3-9 MayEdit

For the eleventh consecutive week, tens of thousands of people, according to al-Jazeera, demonstrated on Friday 3 May and raised banners that read: "You must go" and "Thieves you have destroyed the country". Protesters also continued to insist on the peaceful character of their demonstrations, chanting "Peaceful, peaceful," while marching in central Algiers. It was also reported that the power broker military chief Ahmed Gaid Salah called for "dialogue", but the president of Rally for Youth Action, a civil society organisation, expressed his refusal to negociate with "symbols of the old system."[106]

On Saturday 4 May, the former president's younger brother, Saïd Bouteflika, was arrested along with former secret service head General Mohamed Mediene ("Toufik") and intelligence chief Athmane Tartag [fr; ar] ("Bachir").[107][108][10][9]

ContextEdit

ProtestersEdit

These are the largest protests in Algeria since 2001. The demonstraters are primarily young people who did not experience the "Black Decade".[18] One observer lauded the millennials' reappropriation of corporate branding to their own uses, as well as their respect for their living space through peaceful demonstrations, saying:

Algerian millennials thrive on positive messages. They flooded the web with images of young demonstrators kissing, handing flowers to police officers and women on international women’s day, distributing water bottles, volunteering for first aid or encouraging people to clean the streets after the demonstrations.[109]

Women's active role in the protests was credited with minimizing violence,[110] and marked a sharp contrast with the 1988 protests predominantly led by salafists.[111] An old mother of five unemployed children told the BBC: "There's nothing for the young generation," she said. "No jobs and no houses. They can't get married. We want this whole system to go."[112]

Demonstrations also took place abroad, particularly in France,[113][114][115] where 10,000 demonstrated in Paris on 8 March.[73]

GoalsEdit

Originally the protesters wanted Abdelaziz Bouteflika to withdraw his candidacy for a fifth term and wanted Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia to step down. More generally, they called for massive housecleaning from the government of the ruling clans, known collectively as le pouvoir ("the power").[116]

Slogans, songs and symbolsEdit

Some slogans referred to the incumbent president as "the Moroccan" because of his birthplace[40] and his reputed membership in a shadowy second Oudja Clan.[117] Others, such as "bring back the commandos of the army and the BIS, there will be no fifth term" alluded to the baltaguias.[118] By April, common slogans, placards, chants and hashtags included: "Leave means Leave" and "Throw them all out". Protesters in the capital, Algiers, chanted: "Bouteflika get out, and take Gaid Salah with you."[97]

Songs such as "Libérer l'Algérie", written by artists supporting the movement, "Allô le système!" by Raja Meziane [fr] and "La liberté" by Soolking, became hits with the protesters upon their release.[119][120][121]

Cachir, an emblematic Algerian sausage, was brandished and tossed around during demonstrations as a reminder of the 2014 elections when the press reported that Bouteflika's re-election committee was increasing attendance at their meetings by handing out free sandwiches filled with the sausage. In the protestor's eyes, cachir had become a "symbol of corruption and of the 'buying of votes and souls.'"[122] The Algerians have also employed humour and comedy to express dissent and discontent.[123]

Algerian activist Hamza Hamouchene captured the following on his iPhone:

“Algeria, country of heroes that is ruled by zeros”, “System change ... 99 percent loading”, “We need Detol to kill 99.99 percent of the gang” [referring to members of the regime] And this one from a medical student: “We are vaccinated and we have developed anti-system IgGs (antibodies) ... and we keep getting boosters every Friday” “The problem is the persistence of idolatry and not the replacement of the idol”

Some slogans were directly targeting French complicity and interferences: “France is scared that if Algeria takes its independence it would ask for compensation for the metal it used to build the Eiffel tower” “Allo Allo Macron, the grandchildren of November ’54 are back”

And in reaction to calls by the chief commander of armed forces, Gaid Salah, to apply article 102 of the constitution, which stipulates that the leader of the upper house takes over and elections are organised 90 days after the presidency is declared vacant by the constitutional council, people replied: “We want the application of article 2019 ... You are all going” “We asked for the departure of all the gang, not the promotion of some of its members” “Batteries are dead so no need to squeeze them” “Dear system, you are a piece of s*** and I can prove it mathematically” “Here Algeria: the voice of the people. The number 102 is no longer in service. Please call people’s service at 07” (in reference to article 07 stipulating that the people are the source of all sovereignty).[124]

In Bordj Bou Arréridj, a city 200 km east of the capital Algiers, every Friday protesters have been hanging a new tifo since the fifth Friday. Displayed on an unfinished building renamed "The People's Palace", the banners bear cartoons and slogans, and as more Algerians from other cities have been pouring in every Friday the town has been named "The Capital of the Hirak" (The capital of the popular movement). The idea of the tifos is borrowed from the ultras groups which, according to sociologist Mark Doidge, were political protests in 1960s and 1970s Italy.[125]

RiotingEdit

Although the rallies were generally peaceful, some vehicles were burned and shops were vandalized in the evening of demonstrations.[42][126] On 1 March, clashes took place between the police and groups of young people throwing stones at them.[42]

41 arrests were recorded on 23 February[127] and 45 on 1 March including five men caught trying to haul away a safe. The police reported that "the majority of the people arrested were under the influence of psychotropic or hallucinogenic substances".[128]

Media coverageEdit

Until 1 March 2019, public television, radio, and press totally ignored the demonstrations, while private television channels linked to power dealt with them in a limited way.[129] A boycott campaign was launched against the media.[130] The editor-in-chief of Channel III [ar; fr], Meriem Abdou, resigned on 23 February as a protest against the treatment of the movement on the government-run radio station. Several journalists were arrested.[129] A hundred journalists and the NGO Reporters Without Borders publicly denounced the censorship practiced by the Algerian executive.[131] When state TV channels did begin mentioning the protests, they were critical of the protesters and did not refer to their motives.[42][131] In contrast, the private print media and news sites reported widely on events from the beginning.[129]

Despite the opening of the audiovisual media to competition in 2011, off-shore channels can be shut down at any time because of their precarious legal status.[132] One foreign media outlet, Al Jazeera, has been banned from Algeria since 2004.[133]

On 4 March, Nadia Madassi, Canal Algérie's nightly news anchor for the past 15 years, resigned because she had been required to read a letter attributed to the president on the air.[134]

On 5 March, Echorouk and El Bilad were sanctioned by the Ministries of Communication for having covered the demonstrations, and were cut off from advertising by the ANEP (national publishing and advertising agency).[135]

ResultsEdit

On 11 March, it was announced that the President would not seek re-election; that Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia had resigned and been replaced by Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui; and that the April 2019 presidential election was postponed indefinitely.[136]

Inquiries were announced into "corruption and illicit overseas capital transfers" on 1 April 2019. Ali Haddad was arrested trying to cross the border into Tunisia after liquidating stock worth €38m.[92][137] On the same day, Bouteflika promised to step down by the end of his term on 28 April.

On 2 April 2019, Bouteflika resigned as president, after being pressured by the military to step down immediately.[93][94]

Under Article 102 of the Algerian Constitution, he is to be succeeded as interim President by the current President of the Council of the Nation, Abdelkader Bensalah, who is however ineligible to run in the election for a permanent successor, which according to law must be held in the next 90 days.[96][138]

InfluenceEdit

The weekend after Bouteflika stepped down, protestors in Sudan called upon the army to take their side against sitting president Omar al-Bashir. Despite the state of emergency and the emergency courts the President created to treat the protests, demonstrators staged a sit-in in the public space outside the Khartoum headquarters of the Armed Forces.[139]

CommentaryEdit

 
Demonstrator wrapped in the Algerian flag.

On 28 February 2019, the economist Omar Benderra asserted that a deep separation exists between civil society and the Algerian government, which outlawed street protests twenty years ago, and which he wrote is controlled by "warlords". Public opinion, Benderra continues, is suspicious of official government communication and has also begun to show signs of frustration with spiritual leaders urging the people to stay off the streets.[140]

In Le Figaro on 1 March 2019, the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal said: "Such demonstrations in all the cities of the country and even in the capital, not far from El Mouradia (the district of the presidential palace), the Tagarins (the district of the Ministry of Defense), of Alger Centre (the district of the palace of the government), is an unbearable humiliation for the president, his brothers, his army, his police, his deputies, his senators, his oligarchs, his officials, his extra militias, in short, the "revolutionary family" (that's the name they give themselves), whom no one has ever disrespected without paying for it with his life."[45][141]

Writing on openDemocracy, Hamza Hamouchene, a founder of the London-based Algeria Solidairty Campaign, summed up the context of the revolt:

This decisive awakening on the part of the people and their growing political awareness are harbingers of good things to come and of the stormy days ahead for the profiteering caste and their foreign backers who have been scandalously enriching themselves. In the midst of increasing pauperization, unemployment, paralyzing austerity, the pillaging of resources, uneven development and corruption, the rationality of the current revolt and rebellion becomes absolutely clear.[142]

Fahad Nabeel from the Centre of Strategic and Contemporary Research was less optimistic. For post-Bouteflika Algeria, Nabeel predicted two scenarios: either the political establishment would continue to rule or Algeria would "replicate modern day Egypt as the military leadership moves into the driving seat. In brief, a real change emerging in the Algerian political landscape seems far-sighted for now."[143]

"The protests did emerge in part in response to elements of Algerian social life," wrote Amir Mohamed Aziz, "but they need to be situated in a broader context of African, Mediterranean and transnational political-economic dynamics."[144]

Algerian journalist Ghada Hamrouche doubted whether it was even possible to hold elections as promised by the interim president. Hamrouche considered elections within the current constitutional set up a diversion. Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah and "the ruling class," she wrote, "are counting on the lure of elections to divide and weaken protesters' calls for a transition outside the framework of a constitution that keeps the regime in the driver's seat."[145]

Ahmad Al-Sholi thinks that the Algerian regime is very entrenched and enjoys a good leverage generated by the revenues of the oil industry, a 'surplus' with which it could "co-opt large swaths of the population and oppositional forces. Despite the plummeting oil prices in the world market, the regime, argues Al-Sholi, could attract foreign investment and still refill its coffers. On the other hand, although the Algerians showed an impressive energy and perseverance in mobilisation, "it would be a mistake to expect hundreds of thousands of people to show up to protest indefinitely."

Some popular organization has to emerge now and present a roadmap that the masses could rally around, giving them a chance to catch their breath. The ruling regime is desperate to draw a red line against the protests and is intent on engaging in mass arrests. Fortunately, Algerians have significant industrial leverage to wield against their ruling class. What happens next depends on how this power is channeled to transform Algeria.[146]

ReactionsEdit

NationalEdit

InternationalEdit

International reactions were cautious: most countries and international organizations remained silent until 5 March.

  •   European Union: The European Commission called for respect for the rule of law, including freedom of expression and assembly.[148][149]
  •   United States: The US State Department issued a statement saying that the country "supports the Algerian people and their right to demonstrate peacefully."[148][150]
  •   France: Speaking in Djibouti on 12 March, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Bouteflika's decision not to seek reelection and applauded the Algerian government's plan for a constitutional conference validated by a popular referendum after a "transition of reasonable length."[151]
  •   Russia: Newly-appointed deputy prime minister Ramtane Lamamra began a diplomatic tour in Moscow, where he met with Sergei Lavrov,[85] who said in a joint press conference on 19 March that "Moscow does not meddle in the internal affairs of Algeria", adding that it was "up to the Algerian people to determine their destiny on the basis of their constitution and international laws."[152]
  •   Tunisia: Although Tunisia's president Beji Caid Essebsi has stated that the Algerian people are “free to express themselves on their own governance as they wish” [153], no further comment regarding Tunisia's government's stance on the events was made. Demonstrations were organized on March 9th during which Tunisian civilians showed their solidarity to their Algerian counterparts. [153]
  •   Morocco: Given the tense relations between Algeria and Morocco, the Moroccan government has not issued any official statement regarding the protests. [153]
  •   Italy: The Council President Giuseppe Conte advises listening to "requests for change from civil society" and believes that "Algeria will be able to guarantee a democratic and inclusive process with respect for its people and for its own benefit".[154]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "Blessé vendredi dernier, un jeune manifestant est mort aujourd'hui — TSA" [Wounded last Friday, a young protestor died today - TSA]. TSA (in French). 19 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Algérie: un manifestant blessé meurt" [Algeria: A wounded protester dies]. Le Figaro (in French). 19 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  4. ^ "'The B's must go': Algerians keep up pressure on old guard". Al Jazeera. 19 April 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Proteste weiten sich aus: Hunderte Festnahmen in Algerien" [Protests are spreading: hundreds of arrests in Algeria]. n-tv (in German). 8 March 2019. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  6. ^ Adlène Meddi (15 March 2019). "Algérie, les 4 pièges à éviter pour la "révolution du sourire"" [Algeria, the 4 traps to avoid for the "smile revolution"]. Le Point (in French). Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  7. ^ Myriam Belkaïd (19 March 2019). "La révolution du sourire, Acte 1, scène 4" [The Smile Revolution, Act 1, Scene 4]. HuffPost Maghreb (in French). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Tlemçani, Rachid (2008). "Algeria Under Bouteflika: Civil Strife and National Reconciliation" (PDF). Carnegie Papers. 7.
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