Despite some reports of fatigue or loss of revolutionary fervor over the weeks, Algerians have continued to take to the streets every Friday to ask for the “radical changes.”
Rabat – In the eighth month of what has come to be known as the Algerian Hirak, thousands took to the streets in Algiers on Friday to demand the departure of the army chief, General Gaid Salah, as well as key civilian figures of the transition, according to local reports.
“Huge crowds of Algerians demonstrated against the political establishment in the capital on the 35th Friday and renewed demands to end the General’s rule,” one local paper reported.
Despite some reports of fatigue or loss of revolutionary fervor over the weeks, Algerians have continued to take to the streets every Friday to ask for the “radical changes” and reforms for which they have been demonstrating since late February.
Last Friday, the streets of the Algerian capital were less crowded than during the previous Friday, when masses of demonstrators went out to oppose the planned revision of the country’s hydrocarbon law, arguing that both the current government and parliament lack the legitimacy to pass consequential bills.
But the demands and the fervor remained the same. In chants and anti-establishment slogans, the crowd asked for the departure of an “illegitimate” government and parliament.
With General Salah’s status as the most powerful survivor of the Bouteflika era and the de facto leader of the transition, protesters have made abundantly clear—and they reiterated that stance on Friday—that they want the general and his entourage gone.
But General Salah has been trying to distance himself from the Bouteflika regime.
In addition to the recent arrests of some key figures of the Bouteflika presidency, a move some have called a legitimacy-seeking with hunt, General Salah has maintained that some groups supportive of the former president plan to fuel the protests. He said the groups want to confront the military and force it into responding by violent repression.
In response to calls for his resignation in the 34th week of the protests, General Salah also argued that some Bouteflika loyalists are paying some groups “to participate in the protests and attack the military.”
Meanwhile, the General and Autonomous Workers’ Confederation in Algeria (CGATA), a principal instigator of the demonstrations, is calling for vigilance to “maintain the peaceful nature of the movements, renounce violence in all its forms, work to strengthen the cohesion among Algerians, maintain national unity and reject any foreign intervention.”
The group is however rejecting the government’s call for elections to be held on December 12.
The government’s schedule for the general elections is largely seen as a plot to support the presidency of a figurehead who would work to maintain the current political establishment in power. As a result, CGATA is asking for the departure of the current government “as a condition” for fair and transparent elections.