Editorial of the “World”. Birthdays provide an opportunity for reviews, but also allow you to project yourself into the future. Two years after its outbreak, on February 22, 2019, the Hirak, a spontaneous and peaceful protest movement against the Algerian leaders and political system, has a first merit: it remains alive. Witness the mobilization, Monday February 22, despite the repression and the Covid, of thousands of demonstrators shouting “The generals in the trash” or “The people demand independence”, in several cities of the country. But above all, the Hirak tenaciously expresses the exasperation of a population that is suffocating in a political system opaque to fake democratic institutions, of which the military continues to pull the strings.
However, after a year of demonstrations every Friday and another year of sporadic protests, Covid obliges, it is clear that the results are mixed. Of course, the Algerians have obtained the departure of President Bouteflika after twenty years of reign. Admittedly, they ridiculed, by abstaining massively, the claim of his successor, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, military candidate elected in a rigged presidential election, to religitimer thanks to the constitutional referendum of 1is November 2020. Admittedly, the protesters have just obtained, Thursday, February 18, the release of around forty imprisoned activists, including journalist Khaled Drareni, and the promise, by Mr. Tebboune, of new elections “Detached from money and corruption” and leading to “New institutions”.
But the vain commitments of the same type repeatedly brandished in the past, the succession of phases of repression and appeasement, which the country has chained since the end of the bloody decade of the 1990s, have brought the country far beyond weariness, to a muffled anger exacerbated by the inertia of the regime. The Hirak, a “disengaging” movement which calls for a change of regime but has neither a clear program nor a leadership, has failed to force the small group of men from the security apparatus and the army to negotiate. who holds the reins of the country. Often denounced, the impasse seems total.
Fall in oil rent
However, Algerian leaders can no longer play the clock forever. The health crisis and the sudden fall in the prices of hydrocarbons are undermining the main basis of the regime: its ability to buy social peace thanks to the oil rent which provides 60% of the State’s revenue. Public investment, the main engine of growth, is weakening. Inflation is swelling and the official unemployment rate has reached 15%, not to mention the impact of the crisis on informal employment, which is vital for many.
This time, cosmetic reforms will not be enough. The urgency is for the opening of a real dialogue between the authorities and the oppositions, including representatives of Hirak and of civil society. As the sixtieth anniversary of its independence approaches, on July 5, 2022, it is difficult to see how Algeria, a potentially rich country, could do without a review of its institutions and a national conference. The later the sincere engagement of such a process towards a rule of law worthy of the name, towards a real parliamentary control and an independent justice, the more the tensions will worsen and the more the price to be paid for the Algerian people is likely to be. to be heavy.
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