Algeria’s ‘supportive adversaries’


In Algeria, the prospect of a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the presidential election next year has been hovering for months, notes Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck, a Resident Scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, where her work examines political and extremist violence, radicalization, Islamism, and jihadism. Last April, the general secretary of the National Liberation Front (FLN), Djamel Ould Abbes, called on the ailing 81-year-old president to “pursue his mission of development and reform of the country started since 1999.” After months of speculation, it seems increasingly obvious that Bouteflika, who has been in office for 19 years, will run once again, she writes for Diwan:

Civil society figures have mobilized against the move, writing an open letter to the president and asking him to give up on the idea of another term to allow the country to effect a transition that would permit the “building of solid and legitimate institutions.” However, maintaining the status quo serves different interests and political actors. This is facilitated by the fact that Algerian military and political elites have succeeded in neutralizing their opponents, because opposition parties have often failed to present coherent alternatives to parties backed by the country’s leaders. The opposition has tended to behave in counterproductive ways, allowing the regime to keep things as they are.

“Opposition parties are incapable of developing nation-wide agendas that can bridge the geographic, ethnic, and linguistic fractures that continue to divide Algerians. Rather, they embody its personalism and patron-client relationships,” Ghanem-Yazbeck adds. There is no possibility for a political alternation in Algeria, which is why the country’s forthcoming presidential election will likely be a non-event.” RTWT

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