Khan and Khelil debate on steps of Algerian National Theater

Citizen debate on TNA steps: The challenges and challenges of the “peaceful people’s revolution”


by Sara Kharfi, Reporters Djezair, June 27, 2019

Amin Khan, poet, writer and philosopher, and Moumene Khelil, member of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), were the guests of the citizen debate organized every Monday on the steps of the Algerian National Theater. The first gave his point of view on the ongoing “People’s Revolution”, while the second came back to the National Civil Society Conference and its road map. The ensuing debate was rich, quite enthusiastic and extremely exciting.

Invited last Monday to participate in the weekly citizen debate on the TNA’s steps, in order to give his point of view on the current popular movement, Amin Khan from the outset made it clear that what we have been living for more than four months is not a “Hirak” (in the sense of a limited, momentary eruption) but a peaceful people’s revolution. “Maybe at first it was a hirak, but it turned into a popular movement, and today we can say that we are in a popular, democratic, peaceful revolution,” he said. To emphasize that, he added: “I refuse to describe this movement as a miracle. There are some who suggest that the people were sleeping and woke up on February 22, but this is not the case. For me, this popular movement is the result of the struggles and struggles of the people of all categories (social, age) and everywhere “.

For Amin Khan, the tremendous movement that we are going through is “a consequence of an accumulation of the struggles of the Algerian people over decades. Perhaps some have not understood the patience of the Algerian people because we must not forget that things have been starting to deteriorate for a while now. But we must not forget that we went through a period very difficult, that of the 1990s.”

Khan, who initiated and coordinated the book series “We Other” (published by Chihab,) also recalled that the last 20 years were marked by “corruption in all sectors, which led to the collapse of the structures of state and society,” in addition to other “negative behaviors. .

Despite these failures, according to Amin Khan, the society was able to learn from its historical experience, imposing the concept of a “peaceful people’s revolution”.

“After the civil war, we could have imagined that it would produce violence, but I maintain with great ease, hope and optimism that the opposite is happening. The people have transformed their anger into pacifism,” he said.

Returning to the current situation, Amin Khan considers that there are three actors (or poles): “the regime (or the system), the people, and the Army”—because, “even if the Army is the source of power, it is not the same as the regime.” According to him, the regime has failed, and that, “despite all the financial resources of the country” of the past 20 years. He referred to the current state of the regime, in which there is “a chief of staff who makes proposals that are not up to the aspirations of the people, such that one senses his inability to think rationally about the situation.”

A “political solution” to a political problem

Amin Khan addressed the nature of the system, explaining that “the army was still hidden behind a civilian facade, but today the army is in front of the scene and that is not to its advantage. The system is bankrupt and today there remain only two forces: the strength of the people and that of the Army “. As for the scenarios and other ways out of crisis, for Amin Khan, “we have not yet arrived at a beginning of designing a resolution to the crisis.”

“We must think together to allow the people and the army to dialogue and find a solution,” he said. Moreover, according to him, the solution is not in the organization of elections in the current context: “They are impossible and the people refuse them… The solution lies in the change of the current government and the appointment of a government of national competence composed of honest people who undertake to implement a specific program, to prepare favorable conditions for the organization of the elections (presidential, legislative …) and accepted by the people, ” he said.

 Amin Khan also considers that there is no “contradiction” between the organization of elections and the transition period. For, he explained, “this transition period serves to prepare democratic elections that meet the popular will in a year or a year and a half. Then we will attack the big projects (economy, education, teaching upper, health system …) “. While conceding that the change of government cannot be the miracle solution but a “way” to get out of the current situation where the regime is “still in place”, the author of “Poems of August” specified that the legitimacy Government’s national competence will emanate from “the application of popular claims”. Answering the questions of the present, Amin Khan will recall that “real power is the army”, which has “appointed the presidents since 1962 and founded the current system”. Returning to the constitutional vacuum, very often used as an argument to justify the organization of presidential elections in a short time, Amin Khan will emphasize that “we are in the constitutional void since March 11 when the former president canceled the elections. elections. The problem is political and it must be brought to a political solution. If we do not succeed before July 9, we will not be in a constitutional vacuum but in a political vacuum and this should worry us, as much as we are, people and leaders.

“Change the rules of the game”

With great patience and courage, too, in front of citizens asking for explanations, Moumene Khelil presented the various points of the roadmap of the National Conference of Civil Society. But before, he insisted that the democratic transition is a necessity, even “inevitable”, and this, to “change the rules of the game and move from a system that failed and produces failure to a democratic state, civil, plural “. Recalling the history of the LADDH, the context of its birth in the mid-80s and its actions during the last 20 years, Moumene Khelil stressed that “in the league, it has always been said that the consequence of political confinement is to produce a breach of trust. The question is how to get out of this crisis of confidence. To do this, “it means changing the rules of the game and ensuring that the citizen can act politically.”

“There needs to be a change in the laws on associations, political parties and information. If we go to elections in the current context, nothing will change. The more we organize, the more we will impose a balance of power, “he argued. To achieve this, he must leave aside the assumptions and put in place certain conditions, including “the conviction of the real power to move towards a democratic transition, independent justice and a free press.” Moumene Khelil also presented the road map of the Civil Society Conference, which includes three clusters, namely the LADDH Civil Society Collective (which met for the first time on 27 February), the Coordination of Autonomous Trade Unions and the Civil Society Forum (which includes several associations). Each of these three poles had a roadmap and thought about proposals, but “we found convergences” which allowed the meeting and presentation of the roadmap, which is not fixed. He said that the prerequisite for consultation was “the break with the system and the satisfaction of the claims of the hirak”. The unity of the Algerian people, the release of the prisoners of conscience (including the demonstrators placed under mandate deposit for brandishing the Amazigh flag), the construction of civil status and law were at the center of the debates (for Amin Khan as well as Moumene Khelil). And as the exchanges progressed, the misunderstanding of the departure turned into an interest and a desire for understanding, which reveals the importance and necessity of this weekly citizen debate on the TNA steps. A precious word, frank and free.