Tag Archive: Amazigh Land of Algeria


November 02, 2019

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s electoral body Saturday announced five candidates for the Dec. 12 presidential election, including two former prime ministers and all products of the system challenged by months of pro-democracy protests.

The electoral authority validated the candidacies of former prime ministers Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and two former ministers, one of them a moderate Islamist, plus the head of a small party.

The elections are to replace former longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forced to resign in April after protests and a stern warning from army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has emerged as the country’s authority figure.

Protesters had opposed Bouteflika’s planned bid for a fifth term after 20 years in power and now want to dismantle the corruption-ridden system that kept him in office and the long-standing, if often shadowy, role of the military at the top. Bouteflika was Algeria’s first civilian president since the nation’s first leader after independence from France in 1962, Ahmed Ben Bella, was deposed in a coup.

Besides the two former prime ministers running in next month’s presidential election, the other candidates are: former tourism minister and moderate Islamist, Abdelkader Bengrina; former culture minister and current interim secretary of the RND party that was in the governing coalition, Azzedine Mihoubi; and the head of the El Moustakbel (Future) party close to the FLN, also in the ruling coalition, Belaid Abdelaziz.

The announcement came a day after tens of thousands of Algerians marched for a 37th consecutive week to demand an end to Algeria’s post-colonial political system. Protesters say they don’t trust those currently in power to ensure democratic elections, citing their past links to Bouteflika.

The five who will run were among 23 people who tried to run for the presidency but fell short of the requirements. Rules for candidates included gathering 50,000 signatures from citizens on voting lists from at least 50 regions.

2 June 2019

Algeria has postponed presidential elections planned for next month after the two candidates were disqualified. The polls were to elect a successor to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned after pressure from protesters.

Algeria’s Constitutional Council announced Sunday that it would be “impossible” for the presidential vote to go ahead on July 4 because the only two candidates in the race had been rejected.

The elections were planned after mass pro-democracy protests and pressure from the military forced long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April.

Algerians have been holding marches for months, calling for political reforms and a clear break from the elite that dominated politics during Bouteflika’s two decades in power. The protesters have also demanded the polls be delayed over fears of vote rigging.

Two candidates rejected

Only two, largely unknown, candidates lodged bids by the deadline last week. The council said it had knocked back both application but did not explain why.

“Based on this decision, it is impossible to conduct the presidential elections on July 4,” the council said in a statement, according to Algeria’s official news agency APS.

The council added that it was now up to interim President Abdelkader Bensalah to set a date for a new vote. Bensalah had been appointed interim leader until July 9, but protesters say they want him gone.

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in the capital, Algiers, and other cities to demand his resignation, along with that of Bouteflika ally, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: https://allafrica.com/stories/201906030002.html.

By Darryl Coote

APRIL 11, 2019

April 11 (UPI) — Algeria’s newly appointed interim leader set July 4 to hold the presidential election following last week’s resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Senate leader Abdelkader Bensalah, 77, made the televised announcement Wednesday, according to state-run media Algeria Press Service, which comes a day after Algerian lawmakers appointed him the nation’s interim president for the next 90 days.

Bensalah, who is unable to run in the election, also announced plans to create a “sovereign” body with both politicians and civil society in order to foster conditions necessary for an honest election process, Al Jazeera reported.

The announcement failed to placate protesters who have held mass demonstrations since February demanding a change in the country’s leadership.

The protests first erupted after President Bouteflika announcement late February that he would be running for a fifth term.

The 82-year-old Bouteflika, who had held tight to the reigns of his country since 1999, resigned April 2, after Algeria’s army chief said it would pursue a constitutional procedure to declare the ailing, wheelchair-bound president unfit to rule.

Despite Bouteflika’s resignation, protests persisted as the public worried the country’s rule would only shift to another member of the same regime, and Bensalah’s appointment did little to assuage those concerns as he had served as Speaker of the Council under Bouteflika.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior, Local Authorities and National Planning announced through the state-run Algeria Press Service Wednesday that it had authorized 10 political parties and 22 national and inter-provincial associations.

The ministry said it had examined files on the different parties and associations on a case-by-case basis and allowed 10 political parties “to hold their constituent congresses in accordance with the provisions of the organic law on political parties” while “certificates of approval have been issued to 22 national and inter-provincial associations.”

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Link: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/04/11/Algeria-to-hold-first-post-Bouteflika-presidential-election-July-4/3061554973003/.

September 17, 2018

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday during a one-day visit to the country to discuss migration and the situation in neighboring Libya.

Algeria’s official APS news agency reported the meeting happened in the presence Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and other government members. The discussions take on particular significance before April’s presidential election in Algeria. No candidate has yet emerged because everyone is waiting to learn whether Bouteflika, 81, partially paralyzed from a stroke and rarely seen in public, will seek a fifth term.

Bouteflika travelled to Switzerland earlier this month for medical check-ups. Algerian television channels showed images of Merkel and Bouteflika talking together. In a joint news conference, Merkel and Ouyahia said they agreed on a process to send about 700 Algerian migrants identified as illegally staying in Germany back to their country.

Ouyahia suggested that German airline Lufthansa should help with their transfer in addition to Air Algeria. Algerian authorities requested that no special flight is chartered, he said. “Algeria will take back its children staying irregularly in Germany,” he said.

Merkel said they also discussed the situation in neighboring Mali and Libya, without providing details. Before the talks, Merkel visited the hilltop memorial to “martyrs” who died in Algeria’s war of independence with France that ended in 1962.

Germany was Algeria’s fourth-largest commercial partner in 2017, with 200 German companies working in various sectors in the North African country. This was Merkel’s first visit to Algeria in a decade. Initially set for February 2017, it was postponed because Bouteflika was stricken with the flu.

Both countries also sought to deepen their economic cooperation. Mohamed Saidj, professor of political science in Algiers, told The Associated Press that Merkel’s meeting with Bouteflika provided the Algerian president an occasion to “show his adversaries that he keeps assuming normally the prerogatives of his office.”

Saidj stressed that Algeria has strong economic links with Germany especially in mechanical engineering, the auto industry, renewable energy, the chemical sector and pharmaceuticals.

June 19, 2018

The President of Algeria’s Agricultural Chamber in the El Oued Province, Bakar Hamid, said his country is experiencing a frantic propaganda campaign aimed at damaging the national economy.

The official made his remarks during an interview with local eChorouk newspaper after some countries returned agricultural products imported from Algeria.

Hamid explained that it is necessary to counter such campaigns with all available means so that Algeria can impose its presence in the global market to improve its economy.

He explained that none of the products exported from El-Oued province had been returned, adding, however, that one exporter has exported dates to 12 countries and none of them were returned.

Hamid added that Algeria applies international health standards and any product destined for export should be granted a health certificate in accordance with the agreement signed between the two countries.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180619-official-warns-of-frenzied-campaign-against-algeria-economy/.

February 16, 2018

Algerian authorities announced they would increase the number of border surveillance posts on the Algerian-Moroccan borders by building 10 new posts “that will be added to the 24 surveillance posts it had set up in 2015 to activate control measures and stop smuggling between the two countries.”

Akhbar el-Yom newspaper, which reported the news on Thursday, stated that this move that it described as “dramatic,” comes “tighten electronic military surveillance by providing support to the work of the units that are in charge of guarding border security based on intelligence reports briefings”.

According to the same newspaper, “10 border Algerian posts will be built, and so the total number will jump to 24 security surveillance posts that Algeria has established over the past two years, under the pretext of strengthening surveillance and hindering the smuggling networks between the two countries.”

According to preliminary evidence, the Algerian border posts are to be established in six Algerian border towns: “Ghazaouet, Bab El Assa, Maghnia, Marsa Ben M’Hidi, Souani, and Beni Boussaid”. These are classified as very sensitive border points by security reports, which are often used by widely-spread smuggling gangs.

The newspaper quoted military sources as saying that “the Algerian border posts will be supported by military engineering equipment and about 33 border surveillance cameras, and they will be tasked to track smuggling networks and ISIS’s (Daesh) terrorist groups and cover the large border crossings with surveillance devices that will be functional 24 hours a day non-stop.”

According to the same sources, the “Command of the Second Military Zone of the Border Guard formed a work and follow-up cell on the construction of border posts, which are scheduled to be opened before the end of April, to raise the border guards’ security vigilance and support them with new security equipment to combat organised and cross-continental crimes.”

The Algerian border posts will be built along the line of contact with the cities of Oujda, Berkane, Taourirt, as well as Jerada. The border guards will be increased to provide security information, control the movement of smuggling networks and face the terrorist threats that are coming from the Sahel and Sahara and that seek to break though the region.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180216-algeria-reinforces-its-surveillance-over-its-borders-with-morocco/.

January 15, 2018

Algeria’s doctors have continued their strike until further notice following a week of protests in the country after a sit-in calling for better working conditions in the capital Algiers was dispersed violently by authorities.

The national office of the Autonomous Collective of Algerian Resident Doctors (CAMRA) said in a statement that its demands were discussed with the Minister of Health, Mokhtar Hasbellaoui.

The national CAMRA office said on Saturday that the national representatives of the group held its third meeting with Hasbellaoui in which the compulsory civil and military services were discussed.

A number of terms were agreed to by the Ministry of Health “verbally”, according to CAMRA which include more flexibility during civil service, the right to housing and transportation access and better training.

The Ministry of Health has reportedly not taken any decision yet on the lifting of compulsory civil service which doctors are expected to work following their graduation, for 4-5 years, and sent to remote places in the country with poor facilities and living conditions.

Hasbellaoui informed strikers that he had met with Deputy Defense Minister Gaid Salah to discuss the compulsory military service for men, promising a report as soon as possible.

He blamed hospital and health directors for the deterioration of the medical residents’ situation and deferred any responsibility for the recent demonstrations in the country’s main cities.

The Minister of Health also called on the Directors of Public Health to do all they can to benefit resident doctors so that they perform their civil service in the best conditions.

Last week, protest marches and solidarity sit-ins were organised by resident doctors in several regions in Algeria to make their voices heard and bring their demands to the country’s highest authorities.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180115-algeria-doctors-union-extends-strikes/.

2018-01-08

By Lamine Ghanmi – Tunis

Algeria will become the first North African coun­try to celebrate the Ber­ber new year as a na­tional public holiday. The move signals a major shift in identity politics, which had been dominated by strife and tensions between the government in Algiers and most of the Berber-speaking population in the restive north-eastern Kabylie region.

Berber activists hailed Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s de­cision making the Berber new year day, Yennayer, a public holiday as the crowning achievement of a his­toric struggle and a victory against what they described as Algeria’s “cultural tyranny of Arabism and Arab Ba’athism.” The holiday will be on January 12 this year.

“Who would believe that under the leadership of this president, who had declared with an arro­gant and threatening tone that Tamazight will never be recognized as an official language, that this laguage would be enshrined in the constitution as a national and offi­cial language and Yennayer would be declared a national holiday and paid day off for all Algerians?” asked Ali Ait Djoudi, a veteran activist from the Berber Cultural Move­ment, in a message on social media.

Algerian writer Amin Zaoui said: “At last, Algerians are reconciling slowly with their history, their an­cestors and their identity.”

“There is a long way to climb the path of Lalla Dihya Kahena, Juba, Apulee, Massinissa and others,” he added, naming historical figures known for defense of Berber iden­tity and territory.

Algerian writer Kamel Daoud said: “The decision to make Yen­nayer a national holiday was to be hailed because it would help, over the long run, heal deep wounds and harvest fruits in the future.”

Analysts said Bouteflika an­nounced the recognition of the Berber holiday before the 12th an­niversary of the implementation of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation to strengthen social and political stability ahead of the presidential election next year.

The charter, proposed by Boutef­lika to end the civil war by offering amnesty for most acts of violence committed in the conflict pitting Islamist jihadists and the military, was endorsed by a referendum in 2005 and implemented in February 2006.

The conflict broke out in Decem­ber 1991 after the army-backed gov­ernment scrapped elections radi­cal Islamists were poised to win. It claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 people, mostly civilians killed by Islamists.

“The decision over Yennayer came in these moments of doubts and multiple crises. It reinforces the cohesion of the nation by putting an end to unnecessary misunderstand­ings that are the result of a govern­ance that lacked farsightedness and anticipation,” said Algerian writer Brahim Tazaghart.

It followed the recognition of the Berber language as an official and national language alongside Arabic.

“It is a historic and bold decision by President Bouteflika. It ends the dictatorship and obscurantism of the Ba’athist culture, which hurts us each day by brandishing its rac­ist concept of the Arab nation and spawning hatred within society and undermining the nation’s unity,” said Algerian MP Khaled Tazaghart from the Future Front party, an op­position group.

Language and culture issues go to the heart of Algeria’s identity. It has been a determining factor in rela­tions with other countries.

The French colonial authorities banned Arabic in primary schools in Algeria, dismissing it as a backward language. After independence, in 1962, nationalist leaders adopted an Arabisation policy to undo the lin­guistic legacy of 132 years of French occupation. Towards that end, they recruited thousands of teachers from Egypt and Syria to fill positions left by fleeing French teachers.

However, most of the Egyptian and Syrian teachers were members of the Muslim Brotherhood fleeing crackdowns by Arab national­ist leaders in Cairo and Damascus. Their massive presence in the edu­cation system sparked a backlash in parts of Algeria, especially in Berber-speaking areas, against what was perceived as Arab domination with claims that the Arab teachers had turned Algerian schools into “factories churning out fanatical Psalmists.”

The spread of Arabic influenced the Berbers for centuries, including from the 15th century and through the 17th century when Arabisation of Berbers was accelerated by waves of Andalusian refugees expelled from Spain.

Berbers maintained their tradi­tions, dialects and rituals even after accepting Islam as a religion, mainly in Morocco and Algeria. Their total number in the two countries is esti­mated at 28 million.

Gradually, Algeria has met the de­mands of advocates of Berber cul­ture and language.

A Berber uprising involving a school boycott in Kabylie region in 1995 by parents protesting that their children could speak but not write in their native language led Algerian officials to introduce the Tamazight language into primary education.

In 2002, the government recognized the language as a national one following a deadly protest. The lan­guage was recognized as a national and official language, on equal foot­ing with Arabic, in 2016.

Berber activists have called on the Algerian government to allocate funding to the promotion and the use of their language. Thousands took to the streets in December to back such a demand.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=86693.

January 3, 2018

Algerian police prevented doctors from taking part in a protest outside the Mustafa Pasha Hospital in Algiers on Wednesday. The protesters’ demand include improved working conditions in the country’s hospitals and for the government to reconsider compulsory civil service.

The National Association of Independent Medical Practitioners organized the demonstration outside the hospital before the doctors tried to take their protest beyond the hospital grounds and into the streets. That is when they were blocked by the security forces.

A number of protesters were injured in the scuffles and arrested.

Over the past two years pharmacy, dental and medical students have taken part in a number of protests, sit-ins and hunger strikes demanding better services from the Ministry of Health and better prospects once they graduate. Many are forced to work in poor conditions with few employment rights and, despite promises from the Ministry to provide better services, the government has done little to improve the situation.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180103-police-clash-with-doctors-protesting-in-algiers/.

December 29, 2017

The Algerian Administration will be able to organize electronic elections as early as 2022, the interior ministry announced yesterday.

“We will be ready as an administration, to organize electronic elections, from the legislative elections of 2022,” Noureddine Bedoui said in an interview with Radio Algerie Internationale.

Bedoui further added that “2017 was the year of elections par excellence through the two important deadlines that were legislative and local”, he welcomed the “constitutional deadlines after disturbances in the past that have had negative results both nationally and internationally.”

However the election turnout since 2007 has been very poor with only a 30 per cent participation rate in some of the elections due to large distrust in the process and many instances of election fraud that have taken place.

In this light, the government is looking for ways to prevent the fraudulent process by adopting electronic elections. Regarding the criticism, according to Bedoui, measures adopted this year have allowed for a cleaner election and the removal of 1,300,000 names from the electorate owing to death or “multiple registrations”.

This year’s elections “were held in good conditions”, Bedoui said, adding that they allowed “the new constitutional values ??from the amended Constitution, namely democracy, freedom of expression, opinion and the press as well as the consolidation of the citizen’s place and all the legal conditions gathered through the revision of the electoral code.”

As well as the creation of the Municipal People’s Assemblies and Wilayas (APC / APW) in monitoring local elections, Bedoui added that more work is needed “in terms of support for new elected officials in terms of training and necessary instructions for local development and the creation of wealth on the basis of local potentialities”.

Bedoui praised the work done by the Independent High Electoral Monitoring Body (HIISE) this year and confirmed an evaluation of its work will take place to further improve the electoral system.

Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front party won legislative elections held in May this year though with decreased support compared to previous years. The election was marred by claims of fraud and only 35 per cent of Algerians voted in the election as many had little faith in the ballot box aligning their affairs and believed the outcome of the vote had already been decided.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-algeria-to-introduce-electronic-elections-in-2022/.