On 12 December 2020, Algeria celebrated the first Anniversary of Abdelmadjid Tebboune in power, without him. He was admitted on 28 October 2020 to University Hospital in Cologne, Germany with covid 19. National Media: Algérie Presse Service, El Moudajid Newspaper and TV 1 channel full of Praise to the President and his achievement since he took office. However, no news about his state of health or when will return home from Germany to resume his duties. The last press release from the government informing Algerian that the president is recovering well and he is expected in a few days time was on 02 December 2020. Since then, there was no news or photographs or video him in Algerian media and people are left in the dark about the health of their President and relay on foreign media, particularly French to be informed about their country.
When the European Parliament passed a resolution (see below) on 26 November 2020 on “the deteriorating situation of human rights in Algeria.” Algerian government, Parliament, pro-government parties and human rights body and armed forces were shaken by this resolution and accused the European Parliament of attempting to blackmail the government and its institutions.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs said in his statement: that “this is blatant interference in our country’s internal affairs … Those who stand behind this resolution want to blackmail our country… In order to subjugate Algeria to the Western camp, impose tutelage and neo-colonialism on us, and solve their economic problems at the expense of Algeria.”
Mr Bouzid Lazhari, president of pro-government National Council of Human Rights said in his interview with Algérie Presse Service on 30 November that “our Human Rights and Independence derange European Parliament and use Human Rights rules to impose their political agenda and destabilize our country… the authors of this resolution are colonial nostalgia and encouraging terrorists and illegal protests”.
Pro-government academics also supported the government and criticized European Parliament and said this resolution is written by colonialists who have not yet accept that Algeria is an independent state.
The Algerian authorities do not accept any criticism from inside or outside. The National Media, particularly, Algérie presse service; El Moudjahid Newspaper; and TV1 channel only reports daily activities of the regime without any comments. A few independent print and online media reports on various issues in the country and publish interviews with academics. However, when the authorities do not like the contents, they face punishment or shut down.
The Algerian government has ratified all UN Human Rights Conventions since 1960, although the situation has improved little over the last few years. In Algeria there are substantial restrictions on freedom of association and assembly; serious controls on freedom of expression and of the press; official impunity; over-use of pre-trial detention; substandard prison conditions; prisoner abuse; restrictions on freedom of movement; violence and discrimination against women; limited workers’ rights.
Most troubling for any journalist working in Algeria, is the recent government Law forcing journalists to disclose the sources of their published articles critical of the regime.
Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the southeast by Niger, to the southwest by Mali and Mauritania, to the west by Morocco and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The National Liberation Front (Le Front de libération nationale) has dominated politics ever since Algeria won independence from France in 1962. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced out of office on 2 April 2019 after 20 years in power, and Abdelkader Bensalah was named interim president on the same day. Elections were scheduled for July 2019 but were later postponed because of protests by supporters of the Hirak movement who were disillusioned with the political system and by Algeria’s weak economy and high unemployment, as well as the announcement by President Bouteflika from his Geneva hospital bed that he would seek another five-year term in the 2019 presidential election.
December 2019 Presidential Election
Abdelmadjid Tebboune won a five-year term as president in the election on 12 December 2019. Although he ran for the presidency on an independent ticket, he is an old school regime insider, a loyalist of ousted leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika. As soon as Tebboune’s victory was announced, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Algerian towns in protest. They chanted slogans against Tebboune, who they saw as a continuation of the previous regime, and demanded that the whole political establishment be swept away. Their placards read: ‘your elections are of no concern to us’, ‘We did not vote you president’ and ‘You will not govern us’.
The Mauritanian presidential election of 22 June 2019 was won by ruling party candidate and former Defence Minister General Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, an ally of outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. On 1 July 2019 the Constitutional Court ruled that Ghazouani had won by 52% of the votes cast. He was elected for a five-year term of governance in this West African nation threatened by Islamic extremism. The candidates in the Mauritanian presidential election and their scores in the election are as follows:
1. Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, 483,312 votes (52.01%)
2. Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, anti-slavery activist, 172,656 votes (18.58%)
3. Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, former prime minister, 166,058 votes (17.87%)
4. Kane Hamidou Baba, journalist, 80,916 votes (8.71%)
5. Mohamed Ould Mouloud, historian, 22,695 votes (2.44%)
6. Mohamed Lemine El Mourteji El Wafi, 3,676 votes (0.40%)
According to Mauritanian news media, 100 international monitors had observed the elections and the African Union Election Observer, which comprises 35 observers, as well as foreign embassies in Mauritania reported that the election had been run in a fair and satisfactory manner.
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.
President Bouteflika (81-years old) who has been ill and in a wheelchair since his hospitalization in France on 26 November 2005, has run his country from his hospital bed. He has not been seen in public since 19 March 2017 and the main news which comes out from his office are communiqués of dismissing or appointing Ministers. The latest was the sacking on 15 August of his Prime Minister, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was only appointed on 25 May 2017, and his replacement with Ahmed Ouayhia, leader of the National Rally for Democracy Party, the second largest party in Algeria, who has been Prime Minister three times (1995-1998, 2003-2006 and 2008-2012). Ouayhia is a close confidant of the President and his brother Said who is hoping to become President, in case his 81-year old brother, Abdelaziz, does not stand for a fifth term in the 2019 election. In fact, a recent French Senate members analysis report at the end of July, said that the ailing 81-year old president is preparing himself for a fifth term despite being a “living dead ”.
The Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, seized power in a Coup d’état on 6th August 2008 and was elected President on 18 July 2009 for a term of 5 years. He was elected again on 21 June 2014 for a second five-years term. He organised a contentious referendum on 4 August 2017 to abolish the Mauritanian Senate which he considers to be interfering with his authority and replace it with regional Council which he can easily control, as well as merging the Islamic High Council and national Ombudsman into a High Council of the Fawa. During the election campaign, Ould Abdel Aziz did not explain what kind of legislative power regional Council will have and if this body will get material resources to manage local affairs and implement policies.
Abolishing the Senate, which in fact supported most of his policies, is a very dangerous act. This policy will backfire on him.