In Algeria, a Test of the Limits of Reform Approaches

Jun 4, 2019 | 19:16 GMT

Protesters bearing an Algerian flag march in Algiers on May 31, 2019.

Algerian protesters bearing their country's flag march in Algiers on May 31. Protesters are looking to keep up the pressure on the North African country's ruling elite with weekly rallies despite the end of President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika's two-decade rule.

(RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images)


  • The protest movement in Algeria has achieved notable, albeit small, concessions from the interim government thanks to its unwillingness to back down.
  • The structure of the Algerian government, however, has not changed, and the military and civil government partnership that leads the country will only reluctantly budge in the face of the protests that have challenged that system.
  • More than ever, the military occupies a position as the ultimate arbiter of the workings of the Algerian political system, especially as the presidency remains weakened for the foreseeable future.

Two months ago -- and just a few weeks before he was to stand for reelection -- Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, bowing to pressure from protesters opposed to him standing for a fifth term in office, resigned after 20 years at the country's helm. National elections were canceled soon after the ailing ruler stepped down, and the interim government scheduled a July 4 vote to choose the next president. But under pressure from the protesters, which had coalesced into a powerful nationwide movement, and facing a lack of viable candidates, the rescheduled election now has also been postponed. While the protesters succeeded in forcing Bouteflika out, they have been unable to drive any profound changes in the structure of the Algerian government. Beyond the weakening of the presidential office, with the presidency likely to remain vacant and its powers diminished for some time to come, the system of rule in...

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