Politics & Economics

Algeria: Protests Continue Against Upcoming Elections

North Africa

Presidential elections are set to take place on 12 December in Algeria, however protests against the elections have been ongoing for weeks.

Algerians have been filling the streets of their capital city and other parts of Algeria for several weeks to protest against the holding of elections in December. They believe that the political establishment that has installed itself in government since the forced resignation of former President Abduleziz Bouteflika in April is not acting in the interests of democracy and the people, but for its own political gains.

The resignation of Bouteflika came as a result of mass protests that broke out in February. Protesters have been keen on keeping up the momentum and upholding the ideals of the social movement, now generally known as “Hirak”, however they see the actions of the military establishment currently in power as an impediment.

The candidates that were approved for the 12 December elections are all known to have links to the previous regime, having held positions in the government prior to the resignation of Bouteflika. Protesters see this as a sign that the political establishment is intent on holding on to its power.

Other manifestations of the establishment’s will to preserve its influence is the clampdown on protesters. Several individuals have been taken off the streets and detained. Some are known to be activists focusing on political, legal, social and ethnic issues in Algeria. Others have simply been detained for being part of the masses on the streets.

Some of the groups involved in the protests include those from the legal sphere, including lawyers and judges, who see the judiciary as an entity that lacks independence from the political establishment. Students have also supported their demands.

The Algerian Army, which currently holds significant influence among the political elite, has insisted that it is not seeking to interfere in the upcoming elections. However, protesters are far from convinced by the intentions of the military, which has previously described the protests in negative terms, with the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, having called members of the protest movement as “gangs”.