ALGIERS: Algerians launched an unprecedented protest movement in February, filling the streets of cities across the country and forcing the president out of office.
Six months later, the movement is still going strong in the face of unyielding powers. The progress already made is “irreversible,” said Said Salhi, vice president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights and a prominent figure in the protest movement. “The Algerian people cannot go back,” he said.
The Algerian protesters have “already accomplished more than many observers expected,” according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) think tank. The greatest feat was the resignation on April 2 of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, whose bid for a fifth term had sparked the protests.
In addition, several “widely disliked” regime officials and businessmen, long suspected of corruption though considered untouchable, are now behind bars.
Since Bouteflika stepped down, the movement has pushed for a complete overhaul of the political system.The high command of the army, weakened under the former leader, has meanwhile gained prominence.
For weeks now the situation in the country has appeared to be in deadlock.
For the army chief, Ahmed Gaid Salah, the “fundamental demands” of the movement have been “entirely” satisfied.
On Aug. 2, he “categorically” rejected pre-conditions to launching talks with protesters, who have continued to call for his resignation and that of other Bouteflika-era insiders.