ALGIERS, 1 January 2021 – Algeria’s new Constitution adopted in a referendum last November was signed into law Friday.
Algerian President A bdelmadjid Tebboune campaigned for its passage, calling it the “cornerstone of the new Algeria” he pledged to build during his campaign.
The constitution received the support of less than 15 percent of the electorate after the Hirak called for a boycott and, in part, on account of COVID-19 restrictions.
Mass protests by the Hirak started in early 2019 and were aimed mostly at preventing Algeria’s former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, from seeking and/or winning a fifth term in office.
The protests continued after Bouteflika’s resignation last April with organizers demanding a complete overhaul of the political system bequeathed by France, Algeria’s colonial power until Algiers won international sovereignty in 1962.
About one million Algerians were slaughtered in an independence war against France, leading to independence in 1962.
The new constitution was sold to Algerians as being capable of addressing the demands made by the Hirak mass protest movement.
In calling for a boycott of the referendum, Hirak leaders said the document did not go far enough.
They notably criticized the fact that it maintains a centralized, powerful presidency, and leaves in place what Hirak supporters describe as excessive powers in the hands of the country’s armed and security forces.
Tebbone, who returned to the country last week after spending two months in Germany receiving treatment for the coronavirus, seeks to turn the page on the Hirak mass protest movement.