Algeria’s president, Bouteflika, announced he wouldn’t run for a fifth term… This clearly shows panic in front of the huge popular movement that has taken to the streets for three weeks. But the people who run the country in Bouteflika’s shadow pushed back the presidential election until after a national conference that will lead to a new constitution and new elections… This is all headed by ex-Interior minister Noureddine Bedoui, now Prime minister replacing Ahmed Ouyahia, one of the most hated politician of the Bouteflika era. In other words, same old!
After the first joyful emotions: “We won! We made the puppet step down with no violence,” the people made no mistake: “Now we want him to leave.” And students maintained the demonstration decided the day before the real fake retreat of Bouteflika’s clan.
Welcomed by a strike
Bouteflika came back on Sunday to a country in a state of turmoil. In Algiers, Constantine, Annaba and Bejaia, a strike called on social networks paralysed many sectors such as transportation, administration, trade, schools. Large companies – such as Cevital in agri-business and the petroleum giant Sonatrach – were hit by the strike.
The rats are deserting the sinking ship…
The rising strength of the mobilisation has led to cracks in the presidential clan. Many leaders of the company heads forum have defected. Some old secret agents headed by an ex-Interior minister of Bouteflika have also left. As well as a fraction of the leaders of UGTA, the union confederation in the hands of the regime. The protests even reached the FLN, the party in power since Algeria’s independence in 1962. Seven FLN representatives have left the party to join the revolt.
All these people have stepped aside while there is still time… to preserve the dominance of a wheeler-dealer bourgeoisie and its corrupt state apparatus, still linked with imperialism, particularly with France. Some of the ruling elites thus thought they had to drop Bouteflika.
A fake retreat won’t shut the rebellion.
But those who govern in Bouteflika’s shadow did not exactly choose to drop him. The announcement made on March 11th will not be enough to stop the rebellion. That’s because the demonstrators are not happy simply with Bouteflika not running for a fifth term; they want an end to the “system.” “This smelly cheese stinks less than your system” wrote one demonstrator… “Put the FLN in a museum” said another during the Paris’ rally.
For now, the army has preferred to avoid repressing people. The size of the mobilisation has only suspended the threat of repression.
Having monopolised the power for decades, Bouteflika’s clan wants to buy time to find means to keep the people away from politics. Above all, they would like to empty the streets of the demonstrators. But their trick has not worked, since young people have taken to the streets again.
Demonstrators, particularly the younger ones, are not fooled
With the army in wait, and politicians ready to divert social unrest onto more institutional ground, there are plenty of obstacles on the path to working-class revolt. The use of general strike had provoked the anger of shop owners and small business owners associations. They fear that the movement will go too far for their taste.
But the Algerian youths are not fooled by the current situation: against Bouteflika, all kinds of people where together. Now, the differences will become clearer. There is no reason to believe that young people and, with them, the working class, will let themselves go to sleep.