As Algeria transitions out of its COVID-19 measures an awareness campaign is launched ahead of its constitutional referendum.
Rabat – Algeria’s government has envisaged October to be a month of transition as its constitutional referendum approaches. Ahead of the November 1 vote, the government will run an awareness campaign starting on October 7.
The government of President Abelmadjid Tebboune on Monday announced the campaign to inform the public about Algeria’s upcoming referendum. The National Independent Authority for Elections will work to inform citizens of the proposed constitution.
The government has not yet announced a date when it will publish the new constitution for public scrutiny. A draft version of the constitution released on May 7 is unlikely to resemble the document approved by the government. Since May, the government and its constitutional commission have worked on amending the document away from the public eye.
Many in Algeria fear the referendum and the new constitution only intend to maintain the status quo. Political parties and civil society actors have considered the proposed constitution to be biased and have called for a citizen-led constitutional “constituent process.”
Algeria’s largest Islamist party, Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), is urging its members to vote against the new constitution, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The party has voiced criticism of the opaque process in which the government developed the constitution. On Tuesday they cited its “secular nature” as a reason for MSP opposition.
Louisa Hanoune, leader of Algeria’s Workers Party, released a statement on Monday announcing a boycott of the referendum. Hanoune accused the government of aiming to institutionalize civil society and argued the government should focus on the COVID-19 pandemic instead.
She is urging the government to lift its ban on demonstrations. Algeria needs the freedom to openly debate important public matters before a constitutional referendum takes place, according to Hanoune.
Rallies for press freedom arose amid the debate over Algeria’s upcoming referendum. Additionally, lawyers have announced they will strike for two days to protest perceived undue political pressure on the judiciary. As Algeria’s lawyers made their announcement, a new rally for the release of jailed journalist Khaled Drareni occurred in Algiers.
While politicians and activists protest the government’s efforts to push through the new constitution in a lead-up to Algeria’s referendum, activists and lawyers are expressing their discontent. The thirst for democracy among Algeria’s people appears alive and well. Only time will tell if the government’s new constitution recognizes and addresses the public demand for a new democratic Algeria.