Source: Roar Magazine
Eight years after the Arab Spring caused little stir in Algeria, a new generation has since come of age and is taking on the old guard — but the problems run deep.
When in early February Algeria’s ailing octogenarian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his intention to run for the presidency for a fifth term, millions of Algerians took to the streets in response. After weeks of rallies, Bouteflika was forced to resign on April 2, only to be replaced by a triad of government cronies: Abdelkader Bensalah as interim-president, Noureddine Bedoui as prime minister and Major General Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has emerged as the key power broker in the country.
Despite the arrests of two of the country’s former prime ministers and several business leaders on corruption charges, the protests are continuing with protesters demanding a radical overhaul of the military-backed regime. Fresh elections that were originally planned for July 4, were postponed by the constitutional council in early June, allegedly due to a lack of candidates. The postponement of the elections was seen as a victory by the protesters, who feared that hastily organized elections in the short term would benefit the old powers and leave little opportunity for civic parties to prepare.
Leïla Ouitis, a feminist, housing activist and a French-Algerian teacher living in Seine-Saint-Denis, close to Paris, regularly travels to Algeria to visit her family. She has witnessed the protests first-hand, and in this three-part series she offers her reflections on the socio-economic roots of the popular uprising, the background of the different groups and individuals involved with the movement, and the role played by feminists and women’s rights activists in the protests.
In this first part of the series, Ouitis looks at why Algeria remained relatively undisturbed during the Arab Spring that started in 2011, but is now — eight years later — rocked by some of the largest protests the country has witnessed in history.