Algeria’s amazing mass movement makes gains…

Just World Admin Algeria, Anti-imperialism, Blog, Nonviolence

The Arab world is seeing a wave of mass popular movements that we might even call “Arab Spring 2.0.” In Gaza, protesters have marched weekly for over a year now near the perimeter fence with Israel, demanding an end to their cruel siege and implementation of their Right of Return. In Sudan, regular protests today forced the resignation of long-time President Omar al-Bashir. And in Algeria, the mass protests conducted weekly since February also last week forced the country’s long-time president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to resign…

Tomorrow (Friday), Just World Educational will be releasing two completely original resources about current events in Algeria, in our continuing “Story/Backstory” project. They will be are now available as follows: a text interview with long-time Algeria specialist William B. Quandt and a podcast/audio interview with Algerian poet Amin Khan.

We’re pleased also to provide the following essential background material about the protest movement that has swept Algeria since February 22:

  • Our translation into English of a list of “18 Commandments of the Pacifist and Civilized Demonstrator” that Algerian journalist, poet, and publisher Lazhari Labter issued in early March, as the protest movement took root. (This was translated from a French version of the list, published in Nouvel Observateur, on March 8.)
  • An authorized translation into English of the political reform program that poet (and thought leader) Amin Khan— also, the participant in our upcoming podcast!– published in “Huffington Post Maghreb” on April 5. (Please note that this version of the translation contains significant corrections from the version erroneously published earlier.)

“The 18 commandments of the pacifist and civilized demonstrator”

by Algerian journalist, poet, and publisher Lazhari Labter

  1. I shall walk peacefully and quietly.
  2. I shall behave as a dignified and civilized person will I behave,
  3. I shall carry water and vinegar [to clean the face in case of tear gas, Editor’s note.]
  4. I shall answer no provocation.
  5. I shall isolate and hand over to the police the baltaguias [ the name given to provocateurs paid by the forces in power to create violence.]
  6. Not a stone will I throw.
  7. Not a window will I break.
  8. Not a word out of place shall I speak.
  9. I shall not touch people or property.
  10. To the policeman and the gendarme, I shall smile.
  11. To the woman, I will offer a rose.
  12. With the thirsty, I will share my water.
  13. Old people, women, and children, I will watch over.
  14. I shall march with determination.
  15. I shall go through wind and storms.
  16. I shall be a worthy heir to the Novembrists [the Algerian independence activists who launched the anti-colonial insurrection on November 1, 1954.]
  17. After the march, I will clean the streets and squares.
  18. To the world watching me, I shall provide a lesson and a great example.

Because I know that Liberty at the end of the road will wait for me and in her open arms she will welcome me!

For the democratic transition

By Amin Khan

Since February 22, 2019 the Popular Movement has appeared to the eyes of Algerians and the world for what it is, a peaceful political movement of national, popular and democratic scale. This character has since been confirmed from day to day and from week to week, and its strength has grown to the extent that now, the People’s Movement unites all the places of the territory, the diaspora, all social categories, all political tendencies and ideologies against a regime identified as failure in all areas, an illegitimate, repressive, inefficient and corrupt regime.

With the letter of 11 March, 2019 attributed to the President of the Republic, the regime broke the constitutional order, admitting its inability to break the impasse to which it led the country, but, by the same token, also inevitably opening the way to a new possibility of solution of the crisis… because in reality, the rape of the Constitution by the President of the Republic gives to the real power, the ANP [the Army], the possibility of responding positively to the request of the Popular Movement, a clear and precise demand supported by almost all Algerians: the departure of the current regime and its replacement by a regime, fully democratic, and therefore legitimate. 

The People’s Movement knows that it cannot achieve its basic objective without retaining its determination and vigor, without maintaining its peaceful character, and without actualizing the new balance of power that it will establish through the creation of institutions that are born of the Popular Movement, starting with Government of Democratic Transition.

Today, when the existing bodies that form the strongest framework of the state apparatus, notably the judiciary, the army and the police, express their sympathy for the People’s Movement, it is time to get out of stalemate and move in the path of the political, orderly, peaceful and democratic solution of the crisis. From this point of view, it appears more and more that the widest opinion can converge on the following points:

– The departure of the Head of State and his government as soon as possible. 

– The immediate dissolution of the National Assembly, the Council of the Nation (the Senate), and the Constitutional Council.

 – The formation of a democratic transition government composed of persons recognized in society for their patriotism, their integrity, their independence, their competence and their commitment alongside the people, for the defense of the public good, the general interest, of the rule of law and democracy.

– This government would be responsible for carrying out, over a period of less than one year, a program whose content, objectives and deadlines would be precise, public and solemn, and would consist mainly of preparing for the holding of democratic elections by, among other relevant measures, the establishment of fundamental democratic freedoms, the opening of the fields of organization and the expression of citizens, trade unions and politics, the sanitation and publication of the electoral register, the revision of the laws on parties, associations, media and elections.

– The founding act of the next regime will be the adoption by the people of the new Constitution.

– The Government of the Democratic Transition will have to ensure that the process leading to the adoption of the Constitution strengthens the dynamics of the People’s Democratic Revolution of 22 February.

– The presidential and the National Assembly elections would take place following the adoption of the Constitution.

– Pending the election of the President of the Republic, the powers that are now vested in him would be transferred to the Head of the Government of the Democratic Transition.

– The People’s Movement will have to continue its mobilization throughout the transition, including through the organization of public discussions and debates on all issues that affect the design of the new regime and the future of the country.

 The ANP (the Army) is today challenged. It must make its choice known: support the current regime, or support the transition to a democratic system.

 If the ANP indeed chooses to support the People’s Movement, it should call a representative of the People’s Movement to establish as soon as possible a democratic transition government, and this, from the departure of the Head of State.

Faced with the various economic, social and political crises that weigh on it, the country must not waste time before engaging in the inevitable and salutary transition required by the People’s Movement.