Harsh criticism of the current Algerian regime continues to pour in months before Algeria goes to the polls.
Rabat – Since Algeria’s ruling party announced recently that President Bouteflika is their “ideal candidate” for the upcoming April 18 presidential elections, critics have been quick to lambast the president for clinging to power despite his concerning health status.
Domestic and foreign Algeria watchers, including journalists, analysts, and academics, have hit at what they call a “dysfunctional” and “paralyzed” regime led by “an old, ailing” and “medically unfit” president who appears to have no interest in handing over state power to a new political generation.
France’s Le Monde newspaper is the latest agency to join the chorus of voices decrying the ailments of the Bouteflika regime, pointing out the president’s “wrong” decision to run for a fifth term.
“In Algeria, There is a Power Fossilization,” the French newspaper headlined a recent scathing editorial on the ills and unfulfilled promises of the Algerian regime.
“At 81, Abdelaziz Bouteflika is set to secure a fifth term, bad news for the Algerian population suffocated by a paralyzed regime,” Le Monde wrote.
Bouteflika came to power in 1999 and won the hearts and minds of Algerians.
The country was coming out of a harsh civil war and extremism was rampant in the late 90s when Bouteflika rose to political prominence. In his first years in power, he stabilized the economy and brought social peace.
Unsustainable social contract
But, le Monde explained, the last five years have been trying times for Algerians, whose frustration hit its highest level as it faced a regime more concerned with securing its own survival its grip on the country’s resources rather than take the “courageous” and “much-needed” decision to leave the room for a new generation of leaders.
“This is bad news for Algeria,” the newspaper said referring to the ruling party’s determination to have its “ideal candidate” elected on April 18. “The fossilization of power seals the rupture between society and the highest echelons of the state, with the two living two different stories.”
At the summit sits a power-hungry elite still living in the “victorious” years of the independence war and the tough 1990s, while at the bottom waits a frustrated and “young society hungry to live in the 21st century but suffocated by the straitjacket imposed from above,” according to Le Monde.
After emerging as president at the end of the 1990s and until the heat of the Arab Spring in 2011, Bouteflika succeeded to maintain his grip on power by “buying” the support of Algerians through lavish government spending that guaranteed socio-economic security.
But that once successful social contract is no longer sustainable. Young Algerians aspire to change but are faced with an “anachronistic regime whose only option is immobilism,” the newspaper argued.
Criticism, sometimes even far harsher than Le Monde’s, has also come from domestic observers.
In a recent Facebook post, Algerian journalist Hafid Derradji berated President Bouteflika over his decision to ignore his failing health to run again for president.
“We are ashamed to belong to this miserable generation that accepts humiliation, and is pleased to have its honor and homeland raped by a vicious gang and a renegade,” read Derradji’s post.