The past week has been dominated by two main stories: the second week of the election campaign and infighting amongst the army’s top generals. The main body of this issue of Algeria Politics & Security analyses the renewed infighting amongst the country’s most senior army generals.
The consequences of this infighting — if not snuffed out by General Ahmed Gaïd Salah — could be profound, both in terms of his own future and who might replace him, as well as for the outcome of the presidential election.
The key general in these latest manoeuvrings for power is the relatively unknown General Bouazza Ouassini — the current head of the Direction de la sécurité intérieure (DSI) and the counter-intelligence service — who is probably now the most powerful general after Gaïd Salah.
We explain Bouazza’s recent emergence on the scene, his extraordinarily rapid rise to power, and especially how he has developed a financial and power base, first by controlling the military’s infrastructure budget and then by taking over the DSI.
We also explain: his corrupt financial relationship with Chinese interests, and the role they may come to play in the country’s immediate economic and financial future; as well as his relationship with the Ennahar group’s director, Anis Rahmani, and how together they have together false and often scurrilous information.
We also detail how Bouazza has pushed aside or had dismissed a number of other senior generals who he perceived as standing in his way to power. These include: Ghali Belkecir, Othman Miloud, Cherif Zerrad and Mohamed Kaïdi, whose recent dismissals have, until now, all remained unexplained.
Key features of the second week in the election campaign are also highlighted in this issue, namely the development of night-time demonstrations, the first confrontation between riot police and demonstrators, and the European Parliament’s condemnation of the regime’s actions.