Almost ten months since protests first erupted in Algeria, people are still demonstrating in the streets of the country’s capital Algiers and in other cities nationwide every Friday. They reiterate their main demands which are for the dissolution of the current regime and its symbols and enforcement of Articles seven and eight of the Constitution stipulating that the constituent power belongs to people.
After weeks of peaceful protest, former Algerian president Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika stepped down from office in April. Protesters continued pressuring authorities to annul presidential elections originally scheduled for April. Elections which were postponed until July were once again annulled.
Despite postponement of the elections, angry protesters continued to demonstrate against the upcoming presidential polls scheduled for December 12th as protesters believe the presidential candidates are just symbols of the old regime which they reject. According to Voice of America, the five presidential nominees are facing great difficulties with their electoral campaigns as campaign managers have resigned, voters are attacking campaign headquarter as they believe the whole process is unacceptable.
The political scene in Algeria is ready for new developments as the election date approaches. The situation in Algeria, as reported by Al-Arabiya.net, is like walking in a minefield that might explode at any moment. The election may result in either the success of a candidate from the former regime or the cloning of the old regime. Protesters do not want the elections as they argue it would not be transparent or fair under the current political system.
The five candidates putting themselves forward have not been able to appeal to the public. Pro-popular movement journalist writer Najib Belhamir said that candidates nominating themselves for the elections say that change is impossible without dismantling the whole regime, because there is nothing on the electoral list except the old regime.
“Even those who tried to create the impression that the elections are transparent, either withdrew or submitted incomplete files, which were therefore rejected. This would be the fate of anyone outside the old regime who thought of running,” said Belhamir.
He asked how we can hope that change will happen through elections when society is prevented from discovering new political forces or new figures other than those who have been in the political scene for the past two decades.
Sources at Al-Arabiya.net, argued that change through elections is out of the question unless freedom, which is a prerequisite for the emergence of new political forces, is allowed. Appropriate authorities must grant this freedom to the public who have been filling the streets since last February to participate in political life via credible and genuine elections that would culminate in the shift towards a new future with a new system.
People are determined to pursue the Hirak Movement or Revolution of Smiles until there are state bodies that respect the people. This is because of what they see as a lack of serious elections with suitable candidates who would meet the protesters’ demands.
Moderndiplomacy.eu reported that the popular movement which is on a scale which is unparalleled in the modern history of the country will probably sabotage the preparations for this election and might ruin the election itself. The political climate does not bode well for the running of such an election especially with the total lack of trust between voters and the political class.
With the escalating public rejection of the elections and the serious desire of the authorities to hold them, Algeria is waiting for decisions that will determine its fate. Political analyst Ezzedine Bin Souih pointed out, it is likely that the next election will be cancelled and postponed for a third time due to the fact that people are rejecting their legitimacy and that of the candidates. Also, the nominees themselves are unable to conduct a proper electoral campaign in the current circumstances.
“If the relevant authorities fail to set a date for a third presidential election between candidates whom the people accept, I anticipate the removal of senior political figures such as General Ahmed Qaed Saleh from the political scene due to their failure to contain people’s anger and find solutions to the current political crisis,” said Souih to Al-Arabiya.net.
The Algerian Constitutional Council was obliged to cancel the elections which were due to take place in July, as most of the national candidates and parties refused to participate and boycotted it. Therefore, Souih expected that the December elections would also be dropped due to the people’s unprecedented consensus on opposing and rejecting the current electoral apparatus and as they refuse to give up the progress they have made.
According to moderndiplomacy.eu, only a democratically elected legitimate president, who would be elected on the basis of a transparent agenda, can amend the constitution and carry out the profound political and economic reforms needed. Such a premier must pledge to include the legitimate demands of Algerians such as a new balance of power and a new moral management to fight corruption and embezzlement, to bring Algeria to the new world and render it truly an emerging country, a pivotal country both regionally and internationally.