Hirak : the Algerian Spring

At the end of February, Algeria experienced a wave of demonstrations led by the people. This series of protests echoed the anniversary of the Hirak which referred to sporadic demonstrations that happened each Friday since February 2019 in Algeria. Meaning “movement” in Arabic, the Hirak marked the History of Algeria and other Arabic countries such as Morocco and Libya. Even though it didn’t take much part in the Arab Spring, Algeria is experiencing its time of rebellion.

Between revendications and desire for renewal

The candidacy of the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika – in power since 1999 – to a fifth mandate and his will to stay in charge of the presidency are the direct causes of the Algerian rebellion. The presidential election was planned for April 2019. The protests exploded and the people called for the establishment of a second Republic and the departure of  government members. They also wanted to keep the army out of any governmental decisions. Moreover, Abdelaziz Bouteflika seemed very weakened by a cardiovascular event in 2013 and had not made any public appearance anymore : his capacity to govern appeared to be over. The personality cult which went along with his figure diminished, and he resigned on April 2nd 2019. 

After a few adjournments, the presidential election took place in December and was facilitated by the decline of the mobilisation. Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected but immediately contested by demonstrators. The covid-19 pandemic led to the suspension of the protests at the beginning of 2020. 

Watchword for Abdelmadjid Tebboune : limit the damage

In mid-February, in anticipation of the demonstrations for the second anniversary of the Hirak, the Algerian president announced the dissolution of the National People’s Assembly and the organization of pre-term parliamentary elections. He then promised to grace about fifty people who were imprisoned, accused or sentenced because they participated in the demonstrations. However, it didn’t stop the Algerian people who continued to protest against this regime in place since 1962. Without a figurehead or any organization, they denounced a “mockery”, stating that Abdelmadjid Tebboune is one of the “corrupted”. The current president warned against any misconduct : “The State will be intransigent in the face of these abuses, which fall outside the framework of democracy and human rights.”

The communication between the Algerian people and their leaders seems difficult. The police continues to repress demonstrations and  jails are filled with protestors. Karim Tabbou, the opponent of Tebboune and figurehead of the Hirak, who recently remanded in custody, appears as the natural leader of a re-emerging Algeria.


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