Mass protests erupt in Algeria against Bouteflika’s bid for fifth term
2 March 2019
Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in cities across Algeria against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in April 18 elections. It comes following protests by students and journalists against Bouteflika after the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) announced his candidacy on February 9, and a wave of strikes across the Maghreb.
Since suffering a major stroke in 2013, Bouteflika has been incapacitated. He is receiving treatment at the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG) in Switzerland, with his brother Saïd the unofficial head of state. The FLN’s decision to run Bouteflika testifies to the bankrupt and sclerotic character of the Algerian capitalist regime, which after winning independence from French imperialism in a bloody 1954-1962 war emerged in recent decades as a mainstay of imperialist war strategy.
Mass protests took place in Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Annaba, Tizi Ouzou, Béjaïa, Sétif, Sidi Bel Abbès and other cities. Though the regime banned TV coverage of the marches and restricted Internet access, closing 3G and 4G networks, what predominated in the marches was anger against unemployment, low wages and austerity and calls for bringing down the regime.
The Algerian protests are part of an ongoing, international upsurge of class struggle: bread riots in Sudan, strikes in Tunisia, the “yellow vest” protests in France, and teachers’ strikes erupting independently of the trade unions across the United States. Having suppressed political opposition for decades, the Algerian regime now faces a challenge from below. Protesters are harking…