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Protesters in Algeria, photo Bachounda/CC

Algeria: Bouteflika is finished but the Algerian revolution is not!

Amar Benhamouche, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI France)

Bouteflika, the hated president of Algeria, is gone! But the Algerian people are by no means giving up their struggle. This is despite the way the regime is constantly taunting the demonstrators, trying to frighten them and spread false information to tarnish the image of the movement. But it is because the regime is afraid it takes this course.

The protests are everywhere – in the universities where struggle committees have been set up and where the strike has restarted after the return from spring holidays, in the factories where strikes have been reaking out, in the towns and villages where women, teachers and lawyers, doctors and journalists and the whole of society is mobilising to express the desire for real change.

The massive Friday demonstrations are still just as  massive – from Algiers to Oran, from Annaba to Constantine or Bejaia. The uprising has gathered momentum in every section of society and in every age category – men and women, young and old, workers and unemployed – behind a single demand: Get out all of you! This represents the desire for complete change!

Another retreat for the government!

Seeing what is happening at the summits of the state in these last days, the regime is desperately searching for a way to hang on to power or at least to find a safe exit to avoid the worst of scenarios. It hasn’t stopped thinking about this since the beginning of this massive opposition movement.

The regime has played many cards, using both the bosses and the ‘opposition’, then the idea of annulling the presidential election and proposing the idea of a national conference presided over by the state diplomat, Lakhdar Brahimi. Nothing happening! The confrontation goes on.

Now they have played the card of getting the puppet-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign, which he has now done (on 2 April). He was actually pushed into this by the National People’s Army and its top general Gaid Salah. The Algerian military establishment, which has orchestrated every putsch since independence was won from the French, in 1962, is trying to get power back into its hands and avoid a tragic end for their power-crazed gang.

A council which includes key figures in the regime has been nominated and charged with overseeing a 90 day official period before the coming presidential election, determined not to allow power to fall into the hands of the people.

The movement must go forward!

In the face of this, the people have to be more and more vigilant as to manoeuvres aimed at putting the brakes on this revolutionary elan. Things being done explicitly to undermine the foundations of the movement could play a fatally divisive role. There have been calls to attack women activists, pressure on strikers threatened with being sacked and punished and many other attempts to create a climate of fear. But the response to these was not long in coming. Those who threatened to “cut the throats of the feminists” were bombarded with strong condemnations on the social media , telephone calls etc. – as much from men as from women. They withdrew their threats and even apologised.

The force of the revolutionary movement in Algeria is similar to that of the first weeks of revolutionary struggle in Egypt and in Tunisia, in 2011, when all the provocations aimed at dividing the struggle were pushed back by the determination of the masses.

The movement can and must grow. The parties of the pseudo opposition are discussing behind the backs of the people, including with former leaders of FIS – the Islamic party which sustained the terrorist groups of the ’90s. Workers’ representatives must entertain no idea of entering into such coalitions.

The autonomous trade union federation (CSA), which is relatively small, but which organises certain trade unions that are independent of the regime, has called for a general strike against the interim Bedoui government for the 10th April. There is a need for the rank and file unions of the major federation, the UGTA, some of whom have already agreed to support the movement, to also call for action and for the regime to be chased out, and for action against all the companies in which so many little Bouteflikas reign.

Struggle committees must develop everywhere – from the universities to the factories, in the neighbourhoods and the villages – and discuss all the demands like increased, improved conditions of work, equality for all – women and men, whatever their region. Representatives should be elected to go to coordinating committees at all levels up to national level.

Real democracy

The clique in power and the different clans at the heart of the army or the FLN have been sharing out the cake of Algeria’s wealth in cohoots with the multinationals and the imperialists. There will be no democracy in Algeria as long as these robbers at the service of capitalism hang on to the system.

Only a government of working men and women and of youth, coming out of the revolutionary movement could realise the desire of an Algeria that is democratic and free, where people have equality and where the natural resources and the workplaces are in public ownership and not in the hands of business men who enrich themselves off the backs of the people. Run by working people this would allow real development of the country and the regions and would provide employment for all. This is the real socialism that the current revolutionary movement could build if it holds to its aim of getting rid of the whole regime.

Towards revolution?

As the placard of an unemployed person said on the demonstration last Friday in Algiers: “For the first time, I don’t want to leave you, my country!”. A large majority of people understand what is now possible – it is possible to change the country, possible at last to live with dignity.

The committees of struggle can serve as places in which to discuss a new Algeria. The question of a constituent Assembly and of the next elections comes up often. But that can be a way of circumventing the revolutionary masses if they do not make them an instrument at their service and notably create a party really fighting for the interestes of workers, pensioners, unemployed, small farmers and young people, from whatever culture or people they are.

The revolution that has begun opens up huge possibilities. A democratic socialist Algeria would open the way to the liberation of the whole of Africa. Long live the revolution of youth and workers! The overthrow of capitalism is the task of the working people of all countries, not least those of Algeria.

The CWI says:

  • Full support to the Algerian revolution

  • Clear out all the Bouteflika cronies

  • Fight for full democratic rights – to organise trade unions and the right to strike, the right to a free press and media, freedom of assembly, freedom to organise any party that does not deny the rights of others

  • Support all-out general strike action and a fight to the end

  • Build struggle committees in every workplace and neighbourhood – link up on a citywide, regional and national basis

  • No participation of workers’ representatives in any government based on capitalism

  • Full support to members of the state forces who come over to the side of the people

  • For a revolutionary constituent assembly and a government of elected representatives of workers and poor, subject to recall and receiving no more than the average worker’s wage

  • No discrimination on grounds of gender, family membership, nationality, creed or sexual orientation; abolish the reactionary Family Law

  • Decent wages, full employment and equal rights for all

  • The right to self-determination for Amazigh (Berber) and all oppressed peoples

  • Workers, poor farmers, youth and unemployed unite in struggle against capitalism in Algeria

  • Fight to take industry, land and finance into public ownership and for their planned development under the democratic control of elected representatives of all employees

  • Spread the fight for genuine socialism across North Africa and far beyond