Unrest & protests over economic conditions in Algeria
My piece on the increasingly brittle situation in Algeria as seen by several analysts.
Translated tonight by Mideastwire.com:
On January 20, the daily El-Khabar reported: “Yesterday morning, hundreds of workers and citizens, came out in a massive march in Bejaia, to express their rejection of the policy issued by the government to counter the drop in oil prices and the extreme poverty that threaten the lives of Algerians because of the 2016 Finance Act. The march organized by the SNAPAP and the associative movement, started from the House of Culture in the Amouri neighbourhood and ended in a large gathering at the Said Mekbel Square. During the march, participants raised banners opposing the government and the way it is managing the so-called crisis, where according to the unions it has dropped the burden of the crisis exclusively on the working class. Mourad Gharbi, a worker at the Kasr Municipality, said: “The people refuse to be the only ones to become impoverished and suffer from the ravages of the crisis. Austerity plans, if any are applied, must include the government and the parliament.” He said that the deprivation had reached its limit and that the situation cannot continue, adding that the government is asked to rectify the situation by abolishing the 2016 Finance Act.
“During the march, many slogans were chanted, such as “The impoverished have woken up…O government of forgery,” “No to selective austerity O mismanaging government.” Many trade unionists also said that the government is sucking the blood of Algerians, and that they must leave before a major social upheaval takes place. A teacher and unionist said that the government “will not succeed in bullying and intimidating the people to put them in front of a fait accompli, while it continues to enjoy of the Algerians’ billions at the expense of the poor and helpless.” Nasim Belakhdar, a SNAPAP official, said that the march was due to the government’s failure in managing the austerity policy as it has led the workers to poverty and deprivation from the national wealth; meanwhile a minority of government loyalists has exclusive control over the funds of all Algerians. Many protesters stressed that the only solution to impede the government’s attempt to impoverish the people, is to organize peaceful protests throughout Algeria.
“Municipal workers who participated in the march and who are members of SNAPAP warned the government, through a statement that was distributed to the audience and the press, of the consequences of continuing along this path and persisting in ignoring the demands of the workers, especially those related to improving the purchasing power that is at such a low level. They emphasized that this will lead to more protests that will continue until all the demands are met. As a reminder, the protest march was accompanied by a general strike that paralysed most of the municipalities’ sections, especially after scores of workers not affiliated to the SNAPAP joined the march to express their rejection of the high cost of living, and supported the demands of the union. This came after merchants and owners of cafes and transport vehicles raised the price of their services by more than 30 per cent, despite warnings from the Departments of Trade and Transport.”