Politics & Economics

Algeria: Protest Movement Demands Radical Changes, Not Reforms

North Africa

The Hirak protest movement in Algeria is continuing to march the streets of the capital to voice its desire for radical changes in Algerian politics.

Over a month has passed since Abdelmadjid Tebboune was appointed president of Algeria following controversial elections that took place on 12 December 2019.

The extremely low turnout at the elections and the series of anti-election protests leading up to them have been signs of the stance taken by a large proportion of Algerian society vis-à-vis the political elite, which they see as illegitimate.

“We want a state of justice and law. We do not want simple reforms that provide nothing. We have come out for justice and dignity, not hunger”, expressed a protester during a march in Algiers.

Many see the current government simply as an extension of the the former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s, regime. Although Bouteflika was forced to resign in April 2019 following protests, the transition government that replaced him and the steps it took to nominate candidates for the elections that it had organised, has been perceived as an entity that is perpetuating the political status quo in Algeria.

“We do not want these reforms. We do not want the remains of Bouteflika’s corrupt regime”, stated another demonstrator in Algiers.

Tebboune has stated in his speeches that he is willing to go into dialogue with the protest movement, known commonly as “Hirak”. Nevertheless, members of the movement remain unconvinced about the sincerity of his proposition to listen to the demands of the movement. Demonstrators are seeking wide-ranging and even radical changes to the mode of government and politics that is currently institutionalised in the country. They are as of yet not content with piecemeal reforms that do not get to the heart of corruption.

The protest movement has brought together a whole host of people to the streets, including students, lawyers, judges and civil society activists, to demand the overhaul of the political system which they believe is geared towards maintaining political and economic power in the hands of a small number of elite individuals.