Politics & Economics

Algerians Mark A Year Of Anti-Government Protests

North Africa

A year has passed since the Algerian protest movement calling for an end to the old regime began, and widespread protests are still taking place across the country.

A year after the movement started, Algerian protesters are still taking to the streets every Friday to make their demands. Despite efforts from Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to enter into a dialogue, protesters are steadfast in their commitment to continuing protests until their demands for the removal of the ruling elite are met.

On 22 February 2019, Algerians took to the streets to protest against then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term, after nearly 20 years in power. One year and a new President later, people on the street appear no less determined than they did in 2019.

Tebboune announced a day of national cohesion on the anniversary of the protests and has even stated that the Hirak “protected the country from total collapse”. His calls for a dialogue with the protesters have not yet received a response, as the issue of whether or not to engage with authorities is a matter of contention within the movement.

Parties such as Jil Jadid argue that cooperating with authorities is the only way to effect real change. However, those such as The Political Pact of Forces of the Democratic Alternative (PAD) have called for a complete separation from the authorities, going so far as to organise conferences that exclude those in power.

Tebboune has made some efforts to appease protesters. He has been consulting with political figures about making amendments to the constitution, and there are set to be legislative elections by the end of the year. Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad pitched his action plan, which he described as setting out a “new Algeria”, earlier this month.

However, protesters on the street do not see these developments as evidence that their demands are being listened to. Many protesters are reportedly still imprisoned, and events organised by the opposition are still often banned. If the resilience of the protesters to date is anything to go by, they will not stop protesting until they have freedom, democracy and the removal of those they see as the ruling elite.