Algeria sees its 25th consecutive week of anti-government protests on Friday. The movement has already seen the resignation of the country’s president and the detention of numerous officials and elites, yet demonstrators are still taking to the streets in huge numbers. What are they hoping to achieve and is there an end in sight to the country’s political impasse?
The protests began on 16 February in response to ailing and ageing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to seek a fifth term.
The vast demonstrations forced Bouteflika to resign on April 2, at the army’s behest. But later that week the demonstrators were back out on the streets in full force.
Their target since Bouteflika stepped down has been a group of elites known as ‘le pouvoir’ (the power), a murky network of politicians, army generals and businessmen that many Algerian citizens view as the country’s real rulers since it gained independence from France in 1962.
Such figures include army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, considered by many as the country’s new de facto ruler, and Bouteflika’s interim replacement Abdelkader Bensalah.
Efforts to hold fresh elections to find a permanent replacement to Bouteflika have stalled, with protest leaders claiming any vote held before wholesale changes to the political system are made would simply return the former regime to power.