Combustible material for mass popular protests in Algeria piles up
The spectre of mass protests – known as the Hirak- is haunting the Algerian military regime as the country reels under an economic crisis that it failed to cover using diplomatic and ideological indulgences.
The Algerian people brace to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Hirak that put an end to Bouteflika’s rule nears on Feb 22. Five years after Tebboune was elected with the lowest turnout nearing zero in some restive regions, disenchanted Algerian youth suffers from double digit unemployment and inflation rates, shortages of basic goods and an intensifying crackdown on free speech.
The country has sent scores of peaceful dissidents to jail and imposed a blackout on international media, preventing free reporting on the grim economic and social conditions in the country.
Most independent journalists have either been forced to exile or thrown in jail on sham charges, such as terrorism, undermining state security and working with foreign governments.
Each day, the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD) – created in 2019 to monitor politically motivated detentions – announces new arrests, trials, releases, and judicial procedures.
Human Rights activist, Zaki Hannache, estimates the number of prisoners of free speech, currently in jail on charges of “terrorism”, at 228 at least.
The Algerian regime which brags about defending Palestine, has ironically banned any pro-Palestinian protests following the war in Gaza, going as far as banning fans from football stadiums.
As the economic situation worsens, following a short bracket of expensive gas offered by the war in Ukraine, Algerian rulers continue to play by the same rules expecting different results. But as the economic crisis gradually erodes the finances of ordinary Algerians, the regime will resort to its usual repression tactics combined with distraction methods by seeking a foreign enemy to peg on its self-inflicted woes.
Algerians “are now voiceless, badly represented by a furious regime that has no weight at the international stage,” Wrote L’orientXXI last week.