Demonstrators in Algeria continue to protest as they have since last February, when they began to rise up against former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The protesters maintain that they will not stop organizing until a civilian government is established in place of the current arrangement run by military officials and politicians. The protesters have turned their focus toward figures like Ahmed Gaid Salah, the army chief, and Karim Younes, who has been appointed as the leader of a national dialogue aimed at promoting new presidential elections. While the previous months of protest are seen as a cause for celebration, protesters are also aware that the demonstrations have plunged the country into a state where people are getting hurt. For example, on August 22nd, five young people were killed after being trampled at a rap concert at which the attendees and performers emphasized support for the demonstrations.
The statements of protesters are straightforward and emphasize their intent to continue demonstrating until their needs are met. According to Al Jazeera, at a recent gathering, protesters proclaimed, “Karim Younes does not represent us and Gaid (Salah) does not rule us! We will not be fooled by any dialogue. The people are conscious. They are not idiots.” According to The Guardian, a sign held up at another protest read, “We didn’t come to negotiate, we came to kick you out.”
Before another president is elected in Algeria, there should be non-corrupt and well-thought-out institutions put in place to ensure that future presidents do not exercise the same out-of-touch and extensive power that inspired the protests in the first place. Officials and politicians need to realize that making plans for more elections and putting other powerful people in charge of new initiatives that go against the demands of protesters is not the most efficient way to go about promoting peace in Algeria. As the protesters say, “they are not idiots.” Listening to protesters and taking steps to promote their ideals will ultimately create a more peaceful situation in the country. Additionally, it is good of protesters to recognize that the state of the country is volatile and that it is important to take caution. There is great importance behind their actions and if successful, their efforts will likely lead to a better political system in Algeria. However, it is helpful to be aware of what consequences one’s actions could bring. This helps to increase preparedness for effects that could manifest in years to come as a result of the current volatile state of the country.
The protests in Algeria originally began on 22 February and were brought on by anger towards former President Bouteflika. Though Bouteflika resigned back in April, the protesters are now frustrated with powerful politicians and military officials who are interested in maintaining control over civilians and putting a new president in office. Protesters feel that these officials represent a corrupt and overpowering system rather than representing the people themselves. Though there have been attempts to discuss future elections through a national dialogue, a task that has been spearheaded by Abdelkader Bensalah, who took control as the interim president after Bouteflika’s step down, the next elections have not been scheduled yet. The protesters are more interested in removing corrupt individuals from power and creating a system of sound, civilian-oriented institutions first.
In the coming weeks, it remains to be seen whether the protests will continue with the same vigour and whether the coalition currently in control will lessen its hold on power over civilians. Whether or not the next presidential elections are scheduled for the immediate future also has major implications for how successful the protesters will be in their efforts to promote the implementation of more stable and civilian-oriented institutions.