A Quick Recap of the Current Algerian Debacle
By Omar Abdelghani
Nothing speaks greater than the bid for freedom. Nothing speaks louder than peace. On the 16th of February, 2019, what is being called the Smile Revolution, began only 10 days after (now Former President) Abdelaziz Bouteflika had announced his candidacy for a fifth presidential term.
What had started off with only mere thousands, from all cities, converging onto the capital, Algiers, has quickly escalated beyond expectations. Now millions stand in the streets of the capital united with a singular cause, demanding an end to be brought to the repressive and fallible regime previously endorsed by the ailing and debilitating dictator, President Bouteflika.
It is the biggest revolution Algeria has seen in over 18 years.
Having taken office in the year 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s tenure has endured through many injustices served and sordid conduct that has done little good for his people. He was absorbing many of his country’s resources, allocating his plunder unreasonably, having spent the substantial sum of €2.5 billion on a mosque, nicknamed the Great Mosque of Bouteflika. Had he redirected this futile investment towards healthcare, according to a doctor, he could have built over 200 hospitals. One of the innumerable times the oppressor had opted for vanity instead of integrity.
As the demonstrators took to the streets of their precious Algiers, voicing their discontent with the current regime, their astounding act of peace was encountered with a merciless assault carried out by the government. The peaceful protesters were showered with tear grenades as they closed upon the Presidential palace, killing an elderly man in midst of the conflict. Peace was met with violence. One final attempt to oppress the resilient victims; one last strive against their plea for freedom.
On April the 2nd, 2019, President Bouteflika resigned, bringing an end to his long-lasting rule of tyranny. Consequential to the incantation cast by the peaceful demonstrators, having stood together, chanting the words of relief, ‘Bye Bye Bouteflika’.
A rumor circulating claims that Bouteflika retains control over his Algeria, with an iron fist it says, however, opponents say that his advisors are in fact the ones that lead the nation after his resignation. Neither has been substantiated, but what is evident is that Lt. Gen Gaed Salah, Deputy Defense Minister, who’s seen loyal to Bouteflika, has played a key role in forcing the former president out of his presidency. Salah exercised article 102, which allows the Constitutional Council to declare the position of president vacant if the leader proves he is unfit to rule. Had he not done that, Abdelaziz Bouteflika could have been still in office till this day.
The demonstrations continued after having forced former President Bouteflika out of rule. Although it was initially unclear, the demonstrators have addressed concerns for why they remain on the streets. Explaining their rationale, expressing their fear of having only rid themselves of Bouteflika but not of the regime.
President of the Council of the Nation, Abdelkader Bensalah, has been appointed interim President, succeeding his mentor only a week after the former President’s resignation. He is to fulfill the incumbent role of President up until the elections in three months time.
In a failed attempt to invoke fear into the hearts of the fair protesters, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui drew parallel to the Syrian debacle, having insinuated the possibility of remolding the peaceful demonstrations with blood. An idle threat, that continued with a desperate comparison, made it to the civil war that saw over 150,000 lose their lives in one of the bloodiest conflicts in the nation’s history.
It is now that the world stands by, watching as this phenomenon takes its course. Whilst the nation’s future remains unpredictable, one thing is certain, as Algeria is on the cusp, change is imminent. The world has marveled at the supremacy of a peaceful march, one that had exceeded the might of the dictator, Former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.