Today’s visit of the French PM to Algeria gives a new opportunity to the Algerian regime to bring Bouteflika in front of the state TV’s cameras and prove, if need be, that he’s alive and actually ruling the country. And just like every other foreign official who’s visited “us”, Valls will probably back the regime by praising the president’s courage and alacrity.
The context around this visit is somehow tense. There is apparently no mention of Bouteflika in the Panama Papers (only his industry minister Bouchouareb is found to own an offshore company) and yet French newspaper Le Monde suggested otherwise by putting the Algerian president’s picture on its front page. The Algerian side complained officially and denied visas to the newspaper’s journalists who were to come with Valls. Many French journalists decided to stay in Paris to support their colleagues.
I don’t expect this context to prevent what I mentioned in the first paragraph from happening but I doubt the French PM will sip a cup of mint tea in downtown Algiers surrounded by women in haiks.
But this post is not to speak of the French journalists who wouldn’t be welcome in Algiers. It is enough to say how silly this move is (the complaint and the visa denial) and to repeat that this move’s real target is obviously the Algerian people and certainly not France for which Algeria has been and is always the best of hosts. I hope the people doesn’t fall for these gesticulations any more.
My (short) post is about some Algerians who do not need a visa and yet are blocked from entering the capital.
These Algerians are contract employees of the state working as school teachers and who are not happy. I won’t discuss why they are not happy as this is not my point today, but the fact is that they are unhappy and decided to voice their anger. They chose to do it peacefully by marching (Rachid Nekkaz must have set an example) from Bejaia to Algiers but only to find themselves blocked in Boudouaou. Some of them have are on a hunger strike.
This is not the first time people are prevented from protesting in Algiers and elsewhere. Nekkaz whom I mentioned above, and whom I don’t trust, had been arrested several times during his marches. And in 2011, when the CNCD attempted to march in Algiers, they had been faced not only by the police but also hooligans who accused them of being outsiders (not from Algiers) and called them to go protest in their cities. As if Algiers wasn’t part of Algeria which is said to belong to all its people.
The only ones who marched and made it to the capital were actually the policemen who not only hadn’t been beaten by their colleagues but got their demands granted. No surprise there.
The Algerian people are already excluded from some places which are reserved to the political and military elites and their friends. They are excluded from the selection of their rulers. They are excluded from decision-making groups, nationally as well as locally. They are excluded from the public sphere. They are excluded from… I could go on and on. Now they are excluded from their country’s capital.
What is it that remains to them? They know the answer and this is part of the explanation for their behaviour which is criticized by so many. They need to be included and involved in the country’s matters if we want to give a chance for the country to develop.