Algeria. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was re-elected on April 9 for a third five-year term in office. Bouteflika, supported by the country’s two largest parties, received 90.2 percent of the vote, while the closest challenger Louisa Hanoune from the Labor Party (PT) received 4.2 percent. According to countryaah, a number of opposition parties refused to stand with any candidate in protest of the constitutional change which in November 2008 had allowed Bouteflika to be re-elected.
In February and May, occasional violence was reported between the government side and the armed Islamist group al-Qaeda’s organization in the Islamic Maghreb. In the worst deed, February 22, nine security guards working at a gas installation in the Kabylia region east of the capital Algiers were killed. In mid-October, police launched tear gas and water cannons against residents in the slum area of Diar Echams in Algiers who protested against the difficult housing conditions and demanded access to the city’s housing services. Many in the area were so crowded that they had to sleep in shifts.
A war of words sparked between Algeria and Egypt in connection with the World Cup qualifier in football in November. The countries accused each other of inciting violence in connection with the matches and Egypt called its ambassador from Algeria. It was Algeria that finally went on to the Soccer World Cup in South Africa 2010. Weekly leave in the country was moved in August from Thursday – Friday to Friday – Saturday. The change was an adaptation to the routines prevailing in neighboring countries.
Terror group has new leader
Algerian Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi has replaced Abdelmalek Droukdel as leader of Aqim, the offshoot of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in North Africa. This is stated by the group Site, which follows the movements of terrorist movements. Droukdel was killed by French forces in Mali in June (see June 5). Both the UN and the United States have had Annabi on lists of terror suspects for several years.
The main veteran of the protest movement dies
Lakhdar Bouregaâ, a respected veteran of the war of liberation against the French colonial power, dies at the age of 87 after being infected with the sars-cov-2 virus. During his last years of life, he has supported the popular movement that has protested against the way in which the domestic political elite governs Algeria, and has even been imprisoned for it (see 2 January 2020).
Mild penalties for Bouteflika’s circle
Company leader Ali Haddad, who was part of the circle around former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, will have his sentence reduced from 18 to twelve years after appealing. Former Prime Ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelamalek Sellal will also be sentenced to 12 to eight years in prison. All are convicted of using their political contacts to shoehorn themselves (see 1 July).
The president has covid-19
President Tebboune has fallen ill with covid-19, the presidential office confirms. The condition of Tebboune, who is 74 years old and a chain smoker, is gradually improving, it is said. He is being treated in a hospital in Germany. One of the consequences of his hospital stay abroad is that he cannot put the required signature on the country’s revised constitution, as the president must be in his home country when he signs.
Terrorist threats focus on North Africa
The terrorist network al-Qaeda in North Africa (Aqim) poses threats against anyone who insults Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Several recent acts in France have been motivated by President Emmanuel Macron attacking Islamism and defending satirical cartoons, including those aimed at religious figures such as the Prophet. A 21-year-old Tunisian who went to France illegally stabbed three people to death in a church in Nice on October 29. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announces visits to both Tunisia and Algeria to discuss counter-terrorism. Requests from the French side include that people who are suspected of being extremists should be able to be sent back to their home countries in North Africa.
Few take part in the referendum
The government hopes that plans for constitutional changes will satisfy the popular protest movement, Hirak, or at least reduce support for the protests. But turnout will be very low in the referendum on the proposals, not even 24 percent. This means that more than five million voters participate. Judging by preliminary results the next day, almost 67 percent of these voted in favor of the proposals. Representatives of organizations involved in the protest movement, which has been prevented from holding campaign meetings and called for a boycott, dismiss the referendum as a failure for the regime. Within ten days, the Constitutional Court must decide whether the vote is valid.