The recent Algerian Protests, on one hand, suggest a late awakening of the people in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring in the region while, on the other, they indicate the unsuccessful story of what was once boasted as the successful revolution. In 1962, Algeria declared its independence from France.
This is a dilemma of the colonial powers that whenever they would colonize a country, their general purpose would have been to change the demography of the country. Algeria was no exception. France occupied the north African country in 1830 and began to export people to Algeria. The vanquished country was supposed to serve as the shorter route and a gateway to sub-Saharan Africa, with a view to transporting African raw material back to France.
Perhaps, the Algerian independence was never on the cards because, as soon as Algeria began to show signs of dissent in 1954, French response was prompt and ruthless. Algerian protests turned into an open revolt that eventually ushered into an era of independence for the state that had been a French colony for over 100 years. Mass protests, killings, tortures, and massacres were the most immediate ways the French deemed appropriate to handle the Algerian protests of the pre-independence era.
The recent Algerian protests depict an unsuccessful story of transition from a former French colony to a third-world democratic model. Although it indicates a silver lining for the future, the country falls miserably short of its ideals that led to the Revolution of 1962, and that brought about its liberation from French colonialism. From the lack of development, corruption, autocratic leadership to military activism, Algeria reflects a sorry state of third world democracy.
One of the most significant symbols of such countries as Algeria is the indispensability of the top leadership and the conception that the army is the sole source of power. For, in Algeria, the real guarantor of the power is the army, whose decision on each crucial instance is both final and undisputed. Also, the top leadership’s unwillingness to quit is manifest from the acts of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who took office in 1999 and was, until recently, in power. He was supposed to give up as president after the completion of his second term.
Even though, the president had been confined to a wheelchair since he suffered a stroke in 2013, his love for power never waned. In the times when even the ruling monarchs tend to step down for health reasons, we have the recent example from the abdication of the Japanese Emperor, this oriental attitude of so-called democratically elected leaders seems more absurd than unjustified.
For twenty years, Bouteflika had been able to cash his position in as a wartime veteran during independence struggle against France. But today, this ‘qualification’ is not enough to be the head of the state of the continent’s largest territorial country. Indeed, the Algerian protests have clearly indicated that they have realized that they deserve someone better than Bouteflika.
Additionally, the Algerians were indignant at the authorities against the arrest of Lakhdar Bouregaa, a wartime veteran. For he had dared to criticize the sacred cow of the state, that is, the military establishment.
“What shame a man who liberated the country spends the 57th anniversary of independence in prison,” -one of the banners held by a protestor.
Probably, the resignation of Bouteflika on April 02 who had been seeking the fifth term, but was forced by the mass protests not to, suggests that the people are far from satisfied with mere resignation of the president. Instead, following Bouteflika’s resignation, the simmering Algerians want a complete change of the old edifice and demand each remnant of the Bouteflika’s legacy be removed. Only by doing this, they believe the Algerian revolution could be led to its logical conclusion.
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