Politics and Society
Algerians embark on vigil protesting against elections
As Algerians go to the polls today, a majority are not voting. Algerians have been protesting for 42 weeks, demanding a change in government. For now, many Algerians stand against the current government, which they consider corrupt and still an extension of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Since February 22, 2019 Algerians have embarked on protests. The first series of protests were against former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who wanted to contest for a fifth term despite recovering from stroke. Bouteflika had been in power since 1999 and at 82-year-old, still wanted to be in power. The end of Bouteflika’s 20-year dictatorship came to an end in April 2019 when he stepped down.
But protesters were not done. They did not just want Bouteflika out, they wanted the whole regime out, a holistic change with no remnants of the old establishment left. For 42 weeks, every Friday in different cities across Algeria, large protests took place demanding for change. The protests were remarkably known for being well organised and peaceful.
Starting from December the protests stopped being held weekly but became a daily occurrence. Elections are taking place today, (Dec. 12) but there protests across Algeria standing against the elections are likely to stop that. Some voting centres are closed and others didn’t open because the police feared protests.
Read: Abdelaziz Bouteflika: Algeria’s longest-serving president resigns
Un Seul Heros Le Peuple
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Read: Are Sudan’s uprising and Algeria’s protest the African manual for political change?
This Is Africa spoke to a source in Algeria who said, “These elections, unpopular and rejected by the majority of the people, are nothing but a last try to recycle the Bouteflika’s image as the five candidates are nothing but another face of Bouteflika’s regime as two of them, Benflis and Tebboune, are former prime ministers, while two others, Mihoubi and Bengrina served as minister of culture and minister of tourism, respectively, while the fifth candidate, Belaid, used to be a member of the FLN party, the ruling party in Algeria”
As far as a majority of Algerians are concerned, Bouteflika’s corrupt government is still in power. On Tuesday (Dec. 10), two former Algerian prime ministers, Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal were convicted of corruption charges. Ouyahia got 15 years in prison with a $16, 000 in fine while Sellal got 12 years in prison with $8,000 in fine.
Algerians are still clamouring for a change in government. While elections are going on, many are not voting. It is still uncertain what might happen if any president is sworn in.