Earlier this month, Algeria’s Constitutional Council canceled the elections planned for July 4. The elections were intended to fill the slot left vacant by the former President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign on April 2. In the absence of an able candidate to keep safe the nation’s democratic setup, many are rising to claim for power, even though no candidate has been accepted by the Algerian population.
Algerian human rights activist and former diplomat, Mohamed Larbi Zitout is one such campaigner, who founded Algerian Rashad movement in order to bring reforms in Algeria. Zitout accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of working to prevent the popular movement demanding President Abdelaziz Bouteflika not to run for a fifth presidential term. But in reality, what he is trying to keep under wraps is the financial and political backing his organization is receiving from the State of Qatar and the Islamic extremist organization, Muslim Brotherhood. From his ties with Qatar and Muslim Brotherhood, it can be deduced that more than him wanting to bring reforms in Algeria, he would be used by the two as a more pawn to manipulate power-game in Algeria and capture the oil and gas-rich reserves of the nation.
Egyptians see in Algeria a repeat of what happened to them in 2011. The army shunted Hosni Mubarak out of power, the opposition fractured, and the regime later returned with a vengeance. These are imperfect analogies.
After the revolution, Egypt’s politics became a trade-off between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar is using Mohamed Larbi Zitout to repeat Egyptian history and use the state of turmoil for its own benefit. The North African country is entering a period of fraught with risk.
Bouteflika’s resignation was preceded by other empty promises of political reforms aimed at calming the masses. What Algerian needs is not the one who gives verbal commitment but one who is able to preserve civilian rule and restore the country’s freedom and national stability.
An umbrella organization comprising liberals, Islamists and trade unionists, to name just a few of the groups taking part in the protests, was created a few months ago on a vague platform of reforms, but it already seems to be falling apart. Getting rid of Bouteflika without bloodshed is not victory. The battle has just started.
Algerians need to observe closely the actions of those who are making huge claims. People need to stay united, especially until a new regime is embedded.
The peaceful transition to democracy is a rare scenario in the Arab world’s political set up, but Algeria could be an exception if it acts carefully.