Tag Archives: social movements

Algeria on the brink of revolution

by Sungur Savran

The stakes are rising in Algeria. The mass movement is gaining a level of confidence from which it is very difficult for any kind of regime to turn people back from. On 8th March, coinciding with the International Working Women’s Day, the third round of the demonstrations against the regime represented by Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the moribund president of the republic of Algeria trying to run for a fifth time in the upcoming elections, succeeded to put up a spectacular show of force: most sources talk about hundreds of thousands in the capital city of Algiers alone and millions around the country. One Algerian newspaper (Le Matin d’Algérie) affirms, on the basis, allegedly, of revelations from security forces, that the number of people who demonstrated across the country at large reached the gigantic figure of 15 million.

Mass Uprising in Algeria

On Friday, February 22, 900,000 Algerians — men and women — demonstrated throughout Algeria against the fifth term requested by the entourage of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (who is seriously ill and is currently hospitalized in Switzerland) during the presidential election on April 18. [Bouteflika has already served four terms as president — Tr. Note.] Everywhere, demonstrators headed peacefully toward the seats of power. On February 25, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia announced that there would be no backing down by outgoing President Bouteflika from his decision to stand for re-election, and the prime minister warned of the “risk of dangerous slippage”. Tuesday the 26th, it was the students’ turn to go on strike and take to the streets in large numbers [read our previous issue of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune; articles reprinted in this dossier].
Tuesday, February 26. It is now the turn of the national education workers to join the movement. The 48-hour strike planned for several days by the autonomous unions is widely followed: 65% of the workers are on strike from the very first day, and numerous rallies are held in several cities. The strike movement is supported by parents and high school students alike, who are also getting in motion. Other categories of workers express their rejection of maintaining the system concentrated in the fifth mandate, including lawyers and public radio journalists who have launched a movement affirming that they are “in the service of the public and not the authorities”. Strikes are breaking out all over, such as that of long-haul bus drivers.
In various unions affiliated with the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA), in reaction to the positions of the General Secretary of the UGTA, Abdelmadjid Sidi Saïd, who is one of the spearheads of the fifth mandate, activists and leaders are beginning to speak out against the positions of the General Secretary.
On the same day, a high-profile meeting was held between the Algerian Prime Minister and a delegation from the U.S. State Department. In the summits of political power, in Paris as in Washington, there is concern about what may occur to challenge the status quo. ….
A rally of radio journalists is taking place in support of Meriem Abdou, whose radio program “L’Histoire en marche” [History on the March], on Channel 3, has been suspended by the management because of its protest against the media blackout of the demonstrations.
Wednesday, February 27. The strike continues in the National Education system. New calls for demonstrations on Friday March 1st are circulating on social networks. The Chief of the Army Staff echoed the Prime Minister’s arguments, warning of “possible violence on Friday”.
As a sign of the first fissures in the State apparatus, top cadre  of the Front de libération nationale (National Liberation Front, FLN), some of whom were excluded from the party, published a letter stating: “The FLN has not been and will never be against the aspirations of the Algerian people”.
Thursday, February 28. In Algiers, a rally of journalists has been convened. “Free and independent press!” – “No to the fifth term! “, chanted the journalists. The rally was dispersed by the police, who arrested several participants — including an elected Deputy of the National Assembly — all of whom were released shortly afterwards.
For their part, 13 autonomous trade unions from different sectors, meeting on February 28, reaffirmed, in a statement, “their commitment to a democratic Algeria that respects the popular will, an Algeria of public and individual freedoms, an Algeria of social justice“. They also reasserted their “rejection of the country’s policy orientations that call into question the social State and workers’ gains as well as the policy of suffocating trade union freedoms“.
Friday, March 1. In the morning, in the capital city of Algiers, the excitement is palpable in all neighborhoods. It seems that all of Algiers is heading to the two starting points for the mass demonstration: the Place du 1er-Mai and the Place Maurice-Audin. The police officers, in large numbers, deployed at all crossroads and all the way to the presidential building, did not move. However, tear gas was used here and there against demonstrators from the beginning of the afternoon. Protesters — seemingly responding to all those who have raised the specter of “violence” in the previous days — chant: “Neither Libya nor Syria“… Their message is that the massive demonstrations of the Algerian people for their democratic rights have nothing in common with the so-called “Arab revolutions” and imperialist interference.
There were officially 800,000 demonstrators in Algiers that day, much more than last week, and millions more were in the streets across the country, with 100,000 or more in Constantine, Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou: “We have the impression that the whole city is in the streets“. Many are young people, many are women, many wave Algerian flags… The slogans against the fifth mandate are echoing everywhere, they are displayed on thousands of signs made by the demonstrators. Many demonstrators state: “It is not against Bouteflika personally, that we are protesting, especially since he is seriously ill.” The horrors of the “black decade” of the 1990s are well remembered. That is why many people say, “What we are challenging is the system.” “Young people are getting involved; System: get out of the way!“, shout the students. It is another “historic” day.

Algeria: challenging the zombie state

by Sungur Savran

In an article on Sudan published on RedMed exactly a week ago (http://redmed.org/article/sudan-revolution), we wrote the following on the probable impact of the revolutionary developments in that country on the rest of the Arab world:

Mass protests across Europe show that a new politics is on the horizon

by Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

‘No Christmas for the bourgeoisie!’ declared graffiti on a wall in Paris as the Gilets Jaunes protests electrified Europe since their first protest on 17 November.

France | The “Yellow Vests”: La République en marche arrière

by Sungur Savran

The gilets jaunes movement in France has already achieved a great feat. It has won its immediate demand concerning the carbon tax, thus bringing down the price of gasoline and diesel. It has also imposed on Macron and his government economic concessions no one would believe possible only a month ago. In the process, it has entirely capsized the economic ship of the Macron team: one major objective of Macron was to finally bring down France’s budget deficit below the Maastricht 3 per cent, whereas it hovered above that mark for ten years under the two previous presidents of the republic, Sarkozy and Hollande. The radical liberal Macron was planning to savour the glory of this “victory”. The gilets jaunes changed the entire balance: with an additional ten billion euro added to the deficit, due to lower revenues because of the elimination of the carbon tax and additional government spending for the extra measures that Macron had to concede to the people (in particular, the 100 euro raise to the minimum wage will be shouldered by the government), France will now remain above the 3 per cent mark once again! How ironic to see the European Commission fustigate the Salvini government (for that is what it is!) for a deficit below 3 per cent while it will probably have to look away when the liberal Macron exceeds the Maastricht criterion once again!