Thursday, March 10, 2011

Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series: Algeria

The protests in Algeria kicked off on December 28, 2010.
See the whole Middle East/Aftican Revolution/Protest Series.
I've decided to go in chronological order from when the protests started. I think this makes sense because the older protests have less new information to add and the newer ones are still developing, which will give more time before I blog about them. So, in order, Algeria comes next.

Basic History
Algeria's official name is the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria. These autocratic countries certainly do have a lot of democracy-sounding country names... but I digress. Geographically, it is in the Northwest of Africa. It's the second largest country on the African continent. Important (in terms of protests) bordering countries include: Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, and Mauritania. The capital is Algiers. The population is estimated at 35.7 million people. The main language is Arabic.

Algeria's most recent leader is President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The president is on a five year term that was limited to two terms, but that limitation was removed in 2008. I suspect that will be a cause for concern in the future. The President is the head of the Council of Ministers and of the High Security Council. He appoints the Prime Minister who is also the head of government. The Prime Minister is Ahmed Ouyahia.

In terms of Algerian independence, it was gained in 1962 from the French. The country voted for full independence from France back in the '50s, resulting in guerrilla warfare, French supporters fleeing in the millions, and violence until they elected what was their third official president, but their first after independence, Ahmed Ben Bella. Algeria's history is dotted with leaders that served only shortly and others who served years. The only consistency is the rising corruption and bureaucracy.

The Protests
Protests in Algeria are common occurrences, but in January 2011, the protests and riots became more simultaneous and organized.

The main causes cited as the reason for the protests include: unemployment, lack of housing, food-price inflation, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and poor living conditions.

The first protests were against the rising food prices (stupid global warming). The government lowered food prices across the country. But then the self-immolations began. Just like in Tunisa, the families of those who set themselves on fire were enraged and gathered to protest. Most of these self-immolations took place outside government buildings.

On January 5th, riots broke out in several cities all at once. Organized groups began holding weekly protests against the government. This happened in spite of the state of emergency, the curfew, and the ban on protests. The anti-riot forces tried to quell the protests and send the people home.

The protests continued to grow in certain places like Algiers, even though the government extended which foodstuffs had their prices lowered. On January 11th, many people were victims of violence and even more were arrested. At least 3 protesters died.

The thing that is different about these protests is there doesn't seem to be a clear goal or unified demands made of the government. The government has made concessions to specific protest demands without doing anything to change the current system. Several of the organized parties and groups in Algeria have made calls for democracy, release of arrested protesters, and organized marches even though marches are banned.

In February, strikes began and the protests spread back around to other cities besides Algiers. After Hosni Mubarak left Egypt, the protests grew in strength again in celebration of Egypt's successful protests. By February 22nd, the government had announced the end of the state of emergency, keeping up with their trend of conceding one specific thing without making major changes.

So far in March, the protests have continued and now include the police. Protests are still banned even though the state of emergency is gone. The most recent protests have been violently suppressed, but they continue. There have been calls for the protests to be completely peaceful.

As of today, the protests in Algeria are unresolved. Their government is still intact and still running the country.

More information can be found at,, and

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