History of Algeria, Part V

Finally, a look at the Arab Spring, using Al Jazeera’s Eye on Algeria page.

December 29, 2010: Protests began in Algiers with resistance from police, leading to injuries and arrests. The protests had been ongoing, ranging from the rising unemployment (mainly among university graduates) and corruption within the government. President Bouteflika had amended the constitution in 2009 to allow another election term to the current president in which he won. Food prices also soared with an increase of imports of basic provisions.

January 2011: Protests spread to other cities and towns throughout Algeria, and riots a couple days later sparked arson and looting in local business, government buildings and town halls. Over 800 people were injured, over 1,100 arrested and 3 were dead. After a man set himself on fire in Tunisia (in which is considered the technical start of the Arab Spring), Algerians also participated in self-immolation and suicide. The police and tried to suppress the protests, riots and marches by claiming that they were not authorized by the government. Demonstrations flared more when Ben Ali from Tunisia fled, and Algerians waved the Tunisian flag to show their success.

Political parties tried to rally and make claims as to why the protests were occurring. One party extremely urged the government to lift the 19-year state of emergency which severely limited freedom of the citizens.

February 2011: University strikes started when students claimed that they were given poor education. Paramedics were also on strike. After the resignation of Mubarak, protests in Algiers intensified. Police cordoned off the borders of Algiers to contain the demonstrations, and protesters could not reach the main square by being fired with tear gas and water cannons. Similar demonstrations also cropped up in Oran, Constantine and Annaba. Finally on the 22nd, the government officially lifted the state of emergency ban and began to allow demonstrations as long as there was a fair notice.

March and April 2011: Protests continue against unfair wages and pension packages, but they are met with pro-Bouteflika supporters who tried to lynch another democracy group leader. President Bouteflika released a statement saying he planned to “reinforce representative democracy” and create changes within elections, the government and the press.

While there are still sporadic protests and demonstrations throughout the country, it looks as though there hasn’t been a collective action against the state unlike the other Arab Spring movements. While the state is still plagued with problems, the government has taken some serious steps to mending the situations (making peace with Morocco, holding new elections, etc.).

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