ALGIERS, 4 May 2021 – Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has instructed his government to open “a dialogue” with social partners, to appease mounting public anger.
Shortages of basic foodstuff, soaring prices, and a 15 percent unemployment rate have combined to set off a season of discontent across the north African nation.
The economic crisis has been compounded by falling oil prices, deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, and deep-seated political resentment over the slow pace of democratic reform demanded through weekly Hirak street protests, some of which have degenerated into riots.
Tebboune ordered “a dialogue with different social partners to improve the socio-professional situation” of employees in the education and health sectors, according to a statement issued on the readout of a cabinet meeting last Sunday.
Under pressure from local and international rights groups, Algerian officials on Friday released on probation, Karim Tabbou, a leading opposition activist, after his arrest the day before.
Tabbou, who was handed a one-year suspended sentence last year for “undermining state security”, was charged on eight counts, including “slander”, after he allegedly heckled an official during a funeral.
The crises may yet grow after only 19 of the country’s 39 political parties, had their lists for candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections cleared to participate in the ballot next June.
On Monday, the head of Algeria’s electoral authority (ANIE), Mohamed Charfi, said that 1,730 lists — 818 party lists and 912 “independent lists” — had registered for the legislative elections, explaining that 20 parties fail to “meet the legal requirements”.
The Hirak protest movement started off to counter efforts by former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to extend his rule by a fifth term in office.
The movement, which has called for a boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections, seeks sweeping political reforms of the ruling system in place since Algeria won independence from France in 1962.