Protesters have forced the departure of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. But that may prove to be the easy part
The scenes of jubilation on the streets of Algeria on Tuesday night had vivid, almost uncanny echoes of events in the region eight years ago. A wave of protest in a youthful country has ousted an ageing, authoritarian leader who clung to power for years, at the head of a regime perpetuating a clientelist and unequal economy. The ailing 82-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, finally succumbed after weeks of protests, sparked by the announcement of his candidacy for a fifth term despite reports that he struggled even to speak.
The country’s oil wealth is drying up, reducing the government’s ability to temper popular discontent via state spending; over a quarter of its youth are unemployed; corruption is endemic. But it was the regime’s sheer contempt for its citizens in nominating a man who has barely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke, and the sense of national humiliation, which brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets. Those behind him hope that his departure will allow them to continue as before. Their opponents, now emboldened by victory, demand real change.
Link : The Guardian view on Algeria’s ousted president: what next? | Editorial