A revolt erupted throughout Algeria on Friday, as people took to the streets, clashing with police forces, in opposition to the regime of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Protests began in response to Bouteflika’s intention to serve a fifth term as Algeria’s president. Bouteflika, who had a stroke in 2013, has rarely appeared in public since then. Barely clinging on to life and frequently hospitalized in various European countries, Bouteflika is merely a figurehead, representing an authoritarian regime.
The people in Algeria have a long history of revolutionary and anti-colonial struggle. Beginning in the early 1950s, Algerians waged a nearly decade-long guerrilla war against the brutal French colonial regime. Algeria’s freedom fighters inspired revolutionaries around the world.
While the FLN, the political party that took power following the revolution, still remains in power, there is no meaningful continuation between the legacy of anti-colonial revolution and the regime of Bouteflika. Bouteflika signed a “friendship treaty” with France, the former colonizers of Algeria in 2004, and, Bouteflika has pursued economic “adjustments” and “reforms,” under the neo-colonial guardianship of the IMF, opening up the country to privatization and capitalist investment projects.
Rebels in Algeria have taken to the streets in opposition not only to Bouteflika, but to the regime that he represents. Tens of thousands of people marched on Friday, including Djamila Bouhired, the 83 year old former freedom fighter, who was imprisoned for allegedly bombing a colonial establishment during the Algerian revolution.
Revolutionaries faced off against riot police in a series of confrontations on Friday. Militants burned down an agency of the Bank of Algeria, and youth threw stones at riot police following a demonstration in Algiers on Friday.
While Bouteflika has offered to not serve a full term in a concession to the rebellion, revolutionaries in Algeria are demanding the complete overthrow of Bouteflika’s regime.