Thousands of people demonstrated Tuesday, February 16 in eastern Algeria, in Kherrata, the cradle of the anti-regime Hirak movement, for the second anniversary of the popular uprising, at a time when President Abdemadjid Tebboune is under pressure to curb the political crisis that has shaken the country since February 2019. It is there, 300 kilometers east of Algiers, that a spontaneous mobilization brought together on February 16, 2019 thousands of Algerians opposed to Bouteflika's fifth presidential term , rendered impotent by a stroke.
A week later, on February 22, the protest had won Algiers, then the rest of the country, giving birth to an unprecedented popular movement (Hirak), calling for
"the dismantling of the system"
in place since the independence of Algeria in 1962.
Read also: Algeria: the Hirak had to leave the street, without having defined his political future
Waving Algerian and Amazigh (Berber) flags, the demonstrators chanted slogans known to the Hirak:
"For the independence of Algeria"
Tebboune arrived by fraud, placed by the military"
"The generals in the trash"
The peaceful march ended without any notable incident.
From Monday evening, the Hirakists had converged from several wilayas (prefectures) of Algeria to take part in this rally.
In the continuity of the Hirak marches, suspended for almost a year because of the health crisis, they demanded
"a civil state"
"freedom of justice"
"freedom of expression and of the press"
and release of prisoners of conscience, according to banners posted in the city.
Former prisoners of conscience took part in the parade such as journalist Abdelkrim Zeghilèche or young people Walid Kechida and Mohamed Tadjadit.
“The time has come for this corrupt system to come out.
We hope for the construction of a new Algeria: human rights, freedoms and the rule of law ”
, declared Karim Tabbou.
"Free the detainees, the Hirak reiterates its objective for political, democratic and effective change of the system,"
tweeted Saïd Salhi, vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH).
President Tebboune expected
Public demonstrations remain banned in Algeria due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While many Internet users welcomed the resumption of the movement, others criticized the non-compliance with health measures, including the wearing of a protective mask, hardly visible among the protesters.
The Hirak marches have been at a standstill since March 2020 but as the anniversary of the uprising approaches, sporadic mobilizations have multiplied, especially in Kabylia (north-east).
This anniversary comes in a climate of tension in the regime, faced with a political, health and socio-economic crisis.
The capital, Algiers, is already under heavy police surveillance in anticipation of protests expected in the coming days.
Read also: In one year, the Algerian revolt of Hirak has gone from hope to disillusion
Returning from Germany, where he was treated for three months for the coronavirus and then for post-Covid complications, Abdemadjid Tebboune finds himself at the head of a country in crisis, with blocked institutions and a breathless economy.
In addition to calls for democracy, there are now socioeconomic demands - from students, for example - in a country with an undiversified economy, dependent on the price of the oil market, which is seeing its foreign exchange reserves melt.
Resuming his activities after his long absence abroad, the president this weekend held consultations with several political parties, including the opposition, with a view to local and legislative elections anticipated by the end of the year.
While the new electoral law must be presented to Parliament, Abdemadjid Tebboune is reportedly preparing to reshuffle the government, having publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the action of Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad's team.
The Head of State is also expected on the
between Algeria and France, a former colonial power, after the submission in January of the report by French historian Benjamin Stora to President Emmanuel Macron.
Read also: Algeria still freewheeling without a president
Coming to power on December 12, 2019 with the desire to embody
"the new Algeria"
, but poorly elected, Tebboune is regularly arrested by human rights defenders who denounce a systematic repression against opponents, independent media and bloggers. During his inauguration, he had wished to extend his hand to the
"authentic blessed Hirak"
, the expression consecrated by the regime to a movement whose thurifers deem the demands now satisfied, qualifying today his supporters as