Algerians Continue to Show Their Political Discontent
Algerians took to the streets of Algiers on June 7 for the 16th Friday in a row, and are now demanding a complete reboot of the country’s political system. The weekly demonstrations originally began as a way of showing discontent at the decision by Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the country’s ailing strongman leader, to seek an additional term as president. When the military expressed support for the protesters – Bouteflika had rarely appeared in public since suffering a 2013 stroke – the president announced he would not seek another term in office, but instead would stay on until a new constitution could be drawn up. That wasn’t enough for the protesters, and the military stepped in and made it clear that Bouteflika should step down immediately, which he did. An interim president was installed who would oversee preparations for July 4 elections, and – apparently as a further sop to protesters – legal authorities began arresting senior political and business figures once considered close to Bouteflika. Nevertheless, the July 4 elections have now been postponed, with no new date in sight, and it remains to be seen what will emerge from the ongoing popular discontent.