Algerians protest over entrenched autocracy

FT World Weekly


Today. We're looking at the situation in ALgeria where mass demonstrations have broken out calling for the eighty two year old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to leave office. It's all a bit reminiscent of the demonstrations that broke out almost a decade ago in neighboring Tunisia and that sparked the so-called Arab spring. So what's likely to happen? Now joining me the studios are Middle East editor Andrew England. And then the lines are correspondent have a salad who's covering the protests. Andrew festival as I mentioned ALgeria in a way, it's been an anomaly because it didn't get sucked into the last round of mass protests across the region, why this peculiar history, and why is it happening? Now, do you think if we go back to two thousand eleven the were protests in JIRA, but the government acted proactively to put them down. They lifted the state of emergency in February two thousand eleven they reduced cuts in subsidies and they worked quickly to. As the population. And so you difficult the scale that you got in other countries in Libya in Egypt and engineers, you say now protests have continued in now, Jerry, but they've been very localized. And they'd be very specific sort of local problems, a water problem electricity jobs that kind of thing the difference with this is on a mask L. It's nationwide. People are saying it's bigger than they've ever seen out to your bigger than in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight when they have big protests, and it's all around one thing. And that one thing is the prison beautifully is seeking a fifth term. And it's not necessarily about him personally is more the question. The system is pushing him to stand for a fifth term when he's basically an ailing will chair bound president who's not even in the country. The moment we believe in Geneva getting medical treatment. So it's the whole notion is is the sense that Algerians being insulted by the ruling system saying, yes, we're going to push this eighty two year old onto for a fifth term, and that just seems to have been a step too far out here. And so we're seeing Jerry from all walks of life as I said take to the streets in towns cities. Across the country and really mobilized sort of a national sentiment against this, and beautifully ker has handed in his nomination papers. Someone did it for him because he's not in the country on Sunday, and the protests have continued so essentially against the system against the notion that somehow juries would accept having a president who's eighty two years old hasn't been seen in public for a longtime ready speaks at all in public and is in Seville. Yeah. But one of the reasons one of the theories as I understand it. Why Algieria was largely exempt lost time from the mass turmoil. Was that they had their own tragic civil war beforehand, two hundred thousand people died, and so was that also a reason why people are very wary of any outbreak of unrest because they've seen how tragically wrong it can go in the pause. I think our Jaren leaders have used that. And they've used that pasta. And as you say, you know, what happened in the nine hundred ninety s when they had an election in one thousand nine thousand one which was won by Islamists which the miniature then coun. Counselled which then triggered basically, a civil war that is fresh in the older generations minds, I think it's questionable how much role that played in two thousand eleven I mean, people that I've been speaking to tell me in two thousand eleven and it was called the angry poor working classes took to the streets. And it didn't have that national scope which we're seeing today.

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