Algeria Awaking

The recent Algerian awaking which began in early February 2019 has surprised the establishment and North African political analysts. Bouteflika’s regime has since early February been confronted by the biggest protests, in various cities, since he became President on 27 April 1999. Algerians have rarely been allowed to show dissent since the bloody civil war in the 1990s that, according to various records, left 200,000 dead and 15,000 forcibly disappeared. Families are still searching for loved ones.
  The protests began in 2018 and were originally against Bouteflika seeking a fifth term of office, but they became a nation-wide movement when the president published an open letter to the Algerian people on 10 February 2019, asking for support to complete his mission and reform. He said that ‘although my health is not as good as before, I am only responding to people’s call to stand and that is why I am standing for re-election to complete reforms needed’. He continued: ‘If you give me the honour of your precious trust on 18 April 2019, I will invite within this year all forces of people to hold a national symposium, which will focus on reaching consensus on reforms’. One wonders why he had not done so in previous years! His message was simply – un message fort de continuité – ‘Let us carry on’.
  The protesters rejected his call for support, particularly as his Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia accused the protesters of wanting to turn Algeria into another Syria, and called on the army to intervene to end the rebellious actions of activists.

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