ALGIERS, 22 February 2021 – Thousands of Algerians poured into massive street demonstrations on Monday, marking the second anniversary of 2019 “Hirak”.
The street protests were ongoing earlier last year, suspending action only after the oubreak of the new coronavirus and the institution of bans on public gatherings.
Protesters on Monday chanted against what they consider a de facto military regime in Algeria, with a civilian façade.
“A civilian state, not a military state,” crowds chanted.
“Enough is enough,” others said, adding “the people want independence”.
Crowds of protesters defied a ban on public gatherings to mearch through the center of the capital, Algiers, waving national flags as police officers watched on.
The organizers of Monday’s anniversary march hope to revive the twice-weekly “Hirak” protests.
The “Hirak” – Arabic word for “movement” – forced the regime of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down from power in April 2019.
Current president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, came to power on the backs o the “Hirak” but organizers say his government has failed to bring about the profound reforms the people demand and deserve.
Lasr week, Tebboune reshuffled his government and signed a decree dissolving parliament and announcing early legislative elections without fixing a date for the ballot.
“These decisions don’t satisfy us,” civil rights lawyer Mustafa Bouchachi told The National.
He added: “The regime is only throwing dust in the eyes through taking such measures on the eve of the second anniversary of the protests”..
Street protests were also held in many other towns and villages across the country on Monday.
Tebboune also announced the release from detention and/or prison of activists who were arrested, have been detained or were imprisoned for their role in the 2019 “Hirak”.
The Algerian leader returned to the country last week after spending the most part of the past four months in a hospital in Germany, receiving treatment for COVID-19..
Tebboune, 75, was a former prime minister of former president Bouteflika and many within the “Hirak” believe he is proof that “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” (“the more they change, the more it is the same thing”).