Last year, Algerians massed in peaceful protests against the authoritarian, 20-year presidency of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, prompting the military to force his resignation. The demonstrations have brought millions to the streets, demanding greater transparency in government and an end to pervasive corruption within the shadowy mix of military, business, and political elites who dominate the country. While the popular movement has forced once-unthinkable resignations and criminal investigations of powerful figures, its push for more a fundamental overhaul is stalled. The movement, called the Hirak, can continue its pattern of twice-weekly demonstrations, hoping for more government concessions. Or it can adapt its strategy to move beyond the current stalemate. Either approach could risk greater conflict.
It’s been two months since longtime Algerian dictator Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned following weeks of mass protests. But, Algeria’s protest movement has continued to maintain pressure on the army, which is overseeing a 90-day transitional period. Protesters have even recently called for the resignations of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who were appointed by Bouteflika days before his resignations. With elections scheduled for July 4, what’s next for Algeria? USIP’s Thomas Hill looks at what the protesters want, if an election can satisfy their demands, and the regional implications of Algeria’s continued unrest.
In response to nationwide protests, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he would not seek a fifth term to extend his 20-year rule. Bouteflika’s decision was greeted with celebration by the protesters, who saw it as the first victory in a potential democratic revolution. However, the upcoming presidential elections have been delayed, effectively allowing Bouteflika and a small group of ruling elites to govern indefinitely. What follows for Algeria is an uncertain period, one that echoes the “Arab Spring” that swept through the region in 2011. USIP’s Thomas Hill discusses Algeria’s future and the possibility of a second “Arab Spring” on the horizon.