In spite of distractions from Eid el-Adha and the summer holidays, both the 9 August mass demonstration and the weekly student demonstration of 13 August have sent powerful messages to the regime and to Algeria as a whole. The mere fact that they took place — in a heat-wave in the middle of the holiday season; in the week of Eid al-Adha; and in such numbers — is a clear message to the regime that the Hirak (popular protest movement) will not be broken. The political balance has shifted, and possibly significantly, from the regime to the Hirak and the opposition parties.
The messages of this last week’s demonstrations were a clear rejection of Karim Younès’ Panel for Dialogue Media and the regime’s planned October presidential elections. It is now clear that any such elections will be aborted just as they were on 18 April and 4 July. Younès is now in danger in becoming a footnote in history.
With only two more weeks until start of the social year in September — when schools, universities and businesses come back from their holidays — it is likely to present the regime with some hard choices.
General Ahmed Gaïd Salah has failed to break the Hirak which was his strategy for the summer. He and the rest of the regime will find that the Hirak is refreshed, re-energised, increasingly confident and harder to quell.
Former defence minister Khaled Nezzar has escalated his fight against Gaïd Salah who, in turn, has retaliated. However, while it makes good media coverage, neither man is likely to have much impact on the people as both are detested and seen as criminals.
A government report that the trials of Saïd Bouteflika, Mohamed ‘Toufik’ Mediène, Athman ‘Bachir’ Tartag and Louisa Hanoune will take place in the next few weeks has been rejected by their lawyer who claims that investigations are still continuing. Meanwhile the wealthy Benhamadi brothers have joined the growing list of famous oligarchs and politicians who are in pre-trial detention.
There is growing evidence — which the government is trying to hide, or at least play down — that the economy is heading into a serious crisis and could start contracting by the end of the year.
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