Politics & Economics

Interim Algeria President announces elections amidst mass protests

North Africa

Abdelkader Bensalah, the current interim president of Algeria following the resignation of long-term leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has announced that elections will take place on 4th July.

The resignation of long-standing authoritarian leader, Abdulaziz Bouteflika, has not calmed protesters in Algeria. Algerians from all parts of the country continue to pour onto the streets to continue their demands for democracy and accountability. At the heard of the protests is a demand for the resignation of what they called “the three B’s” of the old regime: Abdelkader Bensaleh, the Speaker of Parliament; Tayeb Belaiz, the Chairman of the Constitutional Council; and Noureddine Badawi, the head of the caretaker Government.

Despite their frustrations, Algerians have maintained the peaceful nature of the their protests as chants of “silmiya, silmiya” (peaceful, peaceful) continue to ring round the streets of Algeria, where the protesters continue to gather.

With Abdelkader Bensaleh acting as the interim President of Algeria, Algerians fear that despite the removal of Bouteflika, the same repressive regime is still in power and is unlikely to give way to the demands of the people. A common slogan heard by the protesters include “They will all leave”, after fulfilling the first stage of their revolution against corruption and autocracy.

Despite Bensaleh’s attempts to calm Algerians saying that the interim period will only last 90 days, Algerians are sceptical and say that they are tired of the corrupt ruling class and want a comprehensive change to the political order in the country. Bensaleh has promised to hold elections on the 4th of July. However, the demonstrators argue that elections cannot be free and fair if they are held under the same judicial framework and institutions as those of the Bouteflika regime.

Anger is also mounting against military chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, who was instrumental in Bouteflika’s departure but then threw his support behind the interim leader, who protesters see as a remnant of the old regime. This leaves Algeria at a crossroads between a real opportunity for democracy and continued authoritarianism.