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In addition to a looming succession crisis, Algeria faces multiple political, economic and social challenges. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has ruled the country without contest since 1999 but has been gravely ill since a stroke in 2014. With no clear heir, his succession could be troubled and worsen Algeria’s ability to tackle mounting economic challenges as oil income dwindles. This would deprive the wider region – particularly the Sahel – of an important stabilising presence. Through fieldwork in Algeria and engagement with senior officials, Crisis Group works to increase the likelihood of peaceful political transition and enhance Algeria’s contribution to stability and conflict resolution in a troubled neighbourhood.

CrisisWatch Algeria

Unchanged Situation

Govt took steps to initiate dialogue with civil society and prepare for presidential elections as weekly protests demanding radical political change carried on and military continued to pursue high-profile critics in courts. In capital Algiers and other cities, thousands of protesters continued to gather for weekly demonstrations, demanding departure of Interim President Ben Salah and PM Bedoui and end to de facto rule of army chief of staff Gaïd Salah. Following Ben Salah’s late July appointment of panel led by former parliament speaker Karim Younes to organise dialogue between govt and civil society, Younes proposed measures to ease tensions, including freeing prisoners and allowing demonstrators free access to Algiers. Gaïd Salah late July refused to allow measures. In response Younes 1 Aug tendered resignation from panel, but withdrew it same day. Younes 4 Aug announced creation of several commissions to focus on different issues and 17 Aug appointed “committee of wise men” to prepare national dialogue that should lay groundwork for presidential elections, despite some opposition groups’ preference for electing constituent assembly. Secular and Islamist opposition figures 3 Aug refused to participate in panel discussions, accusing govt of attempting to circumvent popular demands. Student protesters stormed panel’s press conference 18 Aug, demanding Ben Salah’s resignation. Military court 6 Aug issued international arrest warrant for former army chief of staff and defence minister Khaled Nezzar who had criticised Gaïd Salah on grounds of “conspiracy and breach against public order”. Authorities stepped up repression: Committee to Protect Journalists 14 Aug reported that authorities had blocked five local news websites. Authorities 19 Aug detained and deported senior staff member of NGO Human Rights Watch Ahmed Benchemsi, accusing him of “serving foreign agendas aiming at infiltrating popular protests”.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

5 Mar 2019
The army and intelligence services [in Algeria] are still important but not as an autonomous pole of power. Financial Times

Hannah Armstrong

Consulting Analyst, Sahel
1 Mar 2019
Protests in Algeria are not about rule by one man but a system. One that has empowered a business class with close links to the state while progressively stifling economic and political liberties and excluding an earnest, educated youth. Twitter

Hannah Armstrong

Consulting Analyst, Sahel

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Also available in العربية, Français

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