Algeria, in Northern Africa, is considered a hotbed of the so-called Arab Spring movement. The Arab Spring which came alive in the December 2010 period swept away legitimate, yet authoritarian governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen in a revolution by civil society movements. The movements are believed to have laid the foundation for civil wars that followed years later in some of these countries.
The recent events in Algeria which culminated with the resignation of Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika on April 2 have been the subject of much news in the media and plenty of discussion at Think Tanks around the world. The Economist, The Atlantic Council, The Business Daily, Chatham House are among the leading publications and Think Tanks speculating about the events in Algeria.
Remy Allahoum of Aljazeera writes, “Hundreds of thousands of people took part in nationwide demonstrations demanding the ailing leader, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013, step down.”
A “New Arab Spring” is taking place and it is underway following the marches and mass protests in the country, according to The Wire. The protests which started in February continued into March and April.
An octogenarian, Bouteflika has been in power since 1999. The president initially resisted resignation but was forced to reconsider the idea, saying he would resign after his current term ended on April 28. When that was seen as not enough by the agitating population, they took to the streets, forcing the president not only to say he won’t run again for office but to step down as president altogether.
Ramin Jahanbegloo of The Wire writes: “Civil society, more than the state apparatus, has become the core actor of democratization in Algeria, as was the case in the Jasmin Revolution in Tunisia.”
Jahanbegloo continues: “Though it is true that Islamism is still a banner which holds for some groups in Algeria, there is no shadow of a doubt that the transition from an authoritarian government to a liberal government is around the corner.”
A caretaker government that the president appointed before he resigned is now in charge of the affairs of the country.
Joshua Miller with the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution writes: “Further, political turmoil in the country has continued as Algeria’s spy chief was fired on Friday and several businessmen close to Bouteflika have had their passports seized in recent days, preventing them from traveling abroad.”