It is essential to point out that Algeria is the largest country in the African continent after the nation of South Sudan obtained its independence. Therefore, in terms of population size, Algeria is the most populated country in the African continent. The state also serves as the most significant supplier of gas to the European Union. However, it is remarkable to acknowledge that this country could take a more substantial role, only if its political stability was in order. The rule of democracy would facilitate an efficient economy that maintains the youth within their country instead of pushing them abroad. Algeria has been undergoing a constant wave of demonstrations in demand for significant structural changes in the government. The locals are holding their leaders accountable for the widespread forms of corruption, as well as state repression that has been taking place for many years. Therefore, Algeria has been crippled by the increased tensions and deteriorating economy.
It is remarkable to point out the acute threat of instability that has been increasingly developing in Algeria since February 2019. In the same vein, Fridays have been known as a day of protests, characterized by the city’s activities being brought to a halt whereas the shoppers display brightly colored banners (Serrano, 2019). The hundreds of protestors are significantly made up of the young population that continues to present their views against the nepotism and in-built power structures that have affected the nation for a couple of decades. Most scholars argue that there is a high chance of witnessing protests following the ouster of a dictator. The protests are an attempt to drive an emphasis on commitments. However, seven months later, the Algerian protestors seem not to be growing tired of the demonstrations. Notably, the weekly protests can be compared to a double-edged sword that frustrates the efforts of the non-protestors but also affects democracy among its citizens. As the protests continue to escalate, the security forces are being deployed near the parliament buildings ahead of the protests. This essay endeavors to focus on the protests in Algeria as well as the causes behind such protests.
It is essential to note that the rapidly increasing demonstrations taking place in Algeria are against the conditions of gradual change. Way back in 2011, the federal government of Algeria implemented various reforms to the constitution as a way to respond to the protests that erupted in the country. The implementations went into effect in 2016, making critical headways upon some matters. For instance, set up the presidential term limits and expanding the authority granted to parliament.
The decision made by the sickly 82-year old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to seek for a fifth-year term is what sparked protests among the Algerians (Grewal et al., 2019). It is essential to appreciate the fact that the president’s approval for his candidature for another term in office is not yet apparent. It is necessary to understand that the National Front of Liberation is the dominating party in Algeria. Therefore, in the presence of at least 2000 militants, the party announced the president’s interest to run for another term. In that connection, the declaration led to the most massive protests and demonstrations along the streets. A significant number of Algerians expressed that the president’s bid was not only a way to humiliate the people’s democracy but also stripping citizens of their dignity. It is remarkable to acknowledge that the resident has been serving since 1999 (Grewal et al., 2019). However, after being affected by a stroke in 2013, the president has been making a rare presence on the political grounds. Political analysts point out that his candidature could be a façade whereby the business elite and the political-military express selfish-interest. On the other part, the recent polls indicate that despite the ruling party’s failure, many Algerians stand a high chance of voting for him once more. This could be attributed to the fear that his departure could bring about instability in the government and negative consequences for the entire nation.
It is crucial to acknowledge the fact that the threat of the escalating political instability has a severe effect on the economy. In the same vein, therefore, the economy of Algeria is in dire trouble. Remarkably, the country is rich in natural resources like oil and gas. These resources account for at least 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Aïssaoui, 2001). Therefore, this finances approximately 60% of the budget revenues as well as 95% of the earnings on export. For decades now, the country has been struggling with mismanagement of the energy sector.
On the other part, regular leadership turnover not only discourages foreign investors but also hinders the establishment of new gas and oil assets. In the same vein, the revenue realized from one of the state companies declined drastically from $76 billion in 2008 to $33.2 billion in 2017 (Aïssaoui, 2001). This drastic cut down is attributed to the decreasing energy prices that occurred in 2014. Besides, the increased consumption of energy at the local level explains the low quantity that is available for transport. The tight condition of Algeria’s economy has interfered with the state’s ability to offer services as it used to do in the past. Inflation causes the cost of living to skyrocket, thus making it so difficult for many people to provide for their daily needs. Therefore, the citizens conduct peaceful protests across the country due to the inadequate provision of essential services such as healthcare, electricity, water supply, pensions as well as housing.
Algeria, as a country, has been undergoing immense struggle in an attempt to cut down the country’s heavy reliance on hydrocarbons (Aïssaoui, 2001). The subsequent economic development aspired to transform Algeria into a modern state through the cheap energy that would construct a robust energy department. However, the policies enacted did very little in offering protection to the population from both economic and social vulnerability. This is what flickered prolonged protests from society.
Algerian citizens also experience an acute lack of infrastructure. This is particularly concerning healthcare. Therefore, sick patients are forced to travel to the capital in a bid to access healthcare services. Consequently, this comes not only at a hardship but also at a high cost. Notably, only 3% of development funds have been directed towards the appropriate task, whereas the rest of the funds benefited an undeclared entity. This, too, is another reason that has sparked protests around the country. Despite the knee jerk reaction towards the ongoing protests by the ruling class, the government of Algeria has to restore Algeria’s rich heritage in a bid to regain trust from the citizens.
It is worth considering that the military has assumed a primary role in politics upon the formation of a close alliance with the National Liberation Front about 6o years ago. However, there have been a series of conflicting mandates on the role of the military in Algeria. Notably, the renegotiation of the civil relations in the military restructured the powerful state intelligence. Despite their traditional reluctance to participate in the military affairs abroad, the civilian authorities demand the external corporations, therefore, bringing conflict of interests.
The Algerians do accept the military together with the forces of law enforcers play a significant role in supporting and representing the population. However, the military has been blamed for suppressing internal threats as well as rejecting the external ones. On the other hand, the law enforcement department, which is responsible for controlling the protests are not only under-resourced but also overextended. Therefore, this situation has sparked.
Learners from various institutions spearheaded the protests movement witnessed across the country. It is worth considering that Algeria’s population is significantly made up of youth below the age of 3 (Cordall, 2019). Therefore, the idleness of the young generation due to unemployment has cultivated anger in the government. In the youth demonstrations, various slogans used include; ‘Game Over,’ ‘Algeria, free and democratic’ (Cordall, 2019). Remarkably, the initiative that was begun by the youth has developed into a wide-embracing movement that cuts across various sections of the society. Hence, the campaign has attracted support from the elite group made of teachers, doctors, lawyers, journalists, as well as judges who carry out demonstrations across the country.
One should bear in mind that unlawful flag-waving is another form of protest witnessed in Algeria. In that connection, at least 40 protestors were put behind bars after they were found guilty of waving and possessing the Amazigh flags in the city of Algiers, Chlef, and Annaba (Grewal et al., 2019). According to the investigative team, this group of protestors was charged with causing harm to the integrity of the national territory. In the same vein, under the penal code article 79, such an offense attracts a prison term of between one and ten years.
It is crucial to appreciate that dating from the 1980s, carrying Amazigh flags, and pro-Amazigh activism are frequent activities in Algeria. By so doing, some activists intend to promote Amazigh culture, whereas others seek greater political autonomy while others ask for independence. Notably, the demand for autonomy while others aim for democracy.
June 23rd saw one of Algeria’s supporters of the country’s football club arrested for carrying a slogan written, ‘No God but God; Yetnehaw Ga’.’ The second section is written in Algeria’s dialect implies They Must All Leave. This slogan was used in the ongoing protest in the country and is used about the executive officials serving under the former president Bouteflika (Aljazeera News, 2019). Their ruling party is thought to retain absolute authority. The individual was therefore detained for one year for the public display of a paper that is cap[able to cause harm to the interest of the nation. It is worth noting that Serdouk’s conviction goes against the right of expression. According to the human rights law, criminal law is responsible for making a clear definition of the offense of the culprit.
It is crucial to appreciate that the current events in Algeria rely on the principles of noninterference of the internal matters of a country. In the same vein, Algeria rejected the military intervention in Libya way back in 2011. Besides, the state declined assistance from the International Monetary Funds (IMF) in the economic downturn of the 1980s. This implies that the resistance to foreign intervention means that the European allies and the United States can only impact the country in a limited manner. As mentioned in the essay, the protests in Algeria could largely be attributed to the complex economic and social conditions suffered by the citizens (Guerin, 2019).
The conditions leading to protests include youth unemployment, inability to lead decent lifestyles, lack of development chances, inadequate essential services, among others. As a way to respond to the above grievances, the government of Algeria termed such protests as not only illegal but also a riot that calls for immediate imprisonment of the perpetrators. Notably, in 2001, the Algerian authorities enacted a ban on any demonstrations without obtaining a license for the same.
Secondly, in a bid to slow down the spread of information about the ongoing protests across the country, the ruling authority ensured that the internet was disrupted in several parts of Algeria. Those who are in opposition to the demonstrations fought back by involving false information, trolls as well as creating fake accounts. For instance, the Facebook pages of the activists attract trolls that make negative comments on their pages and even engaging in name-calling. Notably, the fake accounts came into effect after the protests began and had a habit of repeating the negative comments on several posts.
Despite all the protests going on, Algeria’s opposition government considers the riots as a mere play of time. The newly appointed Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui seems to be under struggle with his bid to establishing a credible government. A significant percentage of the political actors seem to distance themselves from the suppressing regime.
It is worth noting that Algeria hugely relies on oil as its economic pillar. In a bid to resuscitate the struggling economy, the government should aim at increasing the accountability and transparency within the institutions of the state as well as the private sector. Secondly, the government should implement opportunities for vibrant youth to curb unemployment. The political dislocation in Algeria has been transferred to the people, whereas the power instruments remain in the hands of a few dictators. Therefore, there is an urgent need to solve the political strife in Algeria. Every time there erupt violent conflicts, and it is advisable to identify the roots back at the community level. Therefore, during such turmoil in Algeria, the community leaders should team up with the law enforcers as well as the government officials in a breakdown that aims to sort out the issues raised by the citizens. The current protests are a reflection of the indications of the corrupt dealings that have become a real threat to the security of the nation and its citizens. For instance, the ruling government must direct all its attention to increasing the economic opportunities as well as rebuilding the infrastructure. When citizens have easy access to basic primary needs such as education and healthcare, the citizens are guaranteed of their citizenship in Algeria. On the other hand, the elected leaders who chose to erode democracies due to their selfish needs need to be ousted out through conducting peaceful demonstrations. All leaders should respect the electoral standards outlined in their constitution without causing harm to the democracy of their countries or subjects.
It is essential to appreciate that the protests in Algeria have attracted international media attention. Remarkably the United States of America has got very little economic and military exposure to Algeria. Therefore, the ongoing protests made saw the United States offering training to the Algerian Law enforcement through the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team.
On the other part, other governments that have raised a concern about the prolonged protests in Algeria include Italy and France. Besides, both Rome and Paris argue that the political instability of the country could enhance an increase of Europe migration through the Mediterranean.