ALGERIA: WHO’S SMILING NOW?


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Last Sunday, hundreds of judges and prosecutors initiated a strike protesting the heavy-handed moves by the government to reduce the influence of around half of the country’s judiciary in an attempt to manipulate the upcoming presidential election.

The National Magistrates’ Syndicate called the recent government move “a stranglehold by the executive over the power of the judiciary.”

The unprecedented strike is supported by a vast majority of Algeria’s judges and prosecutors.

Algeria has been rocked by protests most of the year, sparked last February by then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fifth term. His authoritarian regime had taken control of revenues from the county’s natural resources and used them to pay off political cronies and financial supporters.

Pressure from protests led by the movement Hirak, also known as the Revolution of Smiles, forced Bouteflika to resign.  Those protests were wholly peaceful.

The interim President, Abdelkader Bensalah, is backed by the army and has consistently used repressive measures to try and tamp down continuing anti-government demonstrations.

At least 91 reformers have been imprisoned over the past months in the capital city of Algiers.  The Lawyers Collective, an NGO in India that promotes human rights, report the total number of detainees to be around 170.

Algerians, particularly the youth and poorer classes, have suffered chronic corruption, economic stagnation, and unemployment for over a decade. A steep decline in oil and gas prices has further weakened the already deteriorating economic conditions.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The Algerian protesters essentially are voicing the same disgust as those throughout much of the world: government corruption; the growing gap between rich and poor; rising prices; lower wages; worsening living conditions; and militarized, dictatorial authority.
 

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