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Scenarios that could play out in Algeria Scenarios that could play out in Algeria
by Joseph Gatt
2019-03-25 09:42:04
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Algerians have been demonstrating since February 22. What initially happened was elections were planned on April 18, and incumbent president Bouteflika announced that he would run for the elections. Bouteflika is ailing, incapable of speaking and is on a wheelchair, and that has been the case for over 6 years. Furthermore Algeria's economic situation has been deteriorating, with cash reserves almost empty. Bouteflika announced he would be seeking a fifth term, before withdrawing on March 3. Bouteflika announced that elections would be postponed and that a National Conference would be held. Bouteflika announced that he would remain president until the National Conference ended at which point a presidential election would be held, and he would not run at that election.

alge001_400People have been demonstrating against Bouteflika's fifth term, for Bouteflika's departure on April 28, which is what the constitution allows him, and for holding free and fair presidential elections, although crowds have not been clear on the point of when, where and how to hold free and fair elections. Crowds have been calling for the entire National Liberation Front system, which has de facto ruled the country since 1962, to depart. People have not been clear on the point that they want an entire new generation of people running the country.

Algeria's main problem? Very few Algerians have rigorous upbringings as economists. While there are a lot of legal theorists and political theorists in the country, I can't think of any serious economist. Yet the economy is specifically what needs fixing at the moment. There are three main political schools of thought in Algeria: the nationalist school of thought, which is anti-Western but has no economic trend of thought, and tends toward socialism. There's the Islamic school of thought, which comes in subtle forms because religious parties are banned. Islamic political parties often have random names but leaders subtly leading a religious platform. They want an Islamic republic and economically want an economy that conforms to Islamic principles. Then there are the Communists, which want to do away with private companies and want a socialist economy. The Berberist school of thought also plays a major role in the country, and tends to be pro-Western and anti-clerical.

Here are three possible scenarios to what could happen in Algeria.

Scenario number one: a military coup d’état

The army sends tanks in the streets and imposes a curfew, controls the media and imposes its military leader. The leader could be something of a Park Chung Hee or Pinochet, strict, disciplinarian, authoritarian, totalitarian but with focus on economic development. But the military leader could also be something of a Bokossa or Idi Amin Dada, erratic, a buffoon, kleptocratic, disorganized.

Scenario number two: A national unity government, Islamists voted in at the elections, voted out, the military imposes its leader

This scenario is a classic in Arab politics, one where Islamists often get elected with large majorities at national elections. But they tend to mismanage the country, protests are held and they tend to be voted out, at which point people don't mind the secularist army taking over. An army leader then leads to country for the next twenty or thirty years.

Scenario number three: A high committee of the state is improvised, struggles to agree on the constitution, and you get a divided nation

If a provisional government is improvised, perhaps with Sid Ahmed Ghozali, Lakhdar Brahimi, Mohamed Bejaoui or Ali Haroun at its head (they have the reputation of being “honest” intellectuals) the country will struggle to agree on a constitution. The Kabylie region might declare its independence, followed by the Chaouia region, the Sahara region, The Mzab Valley, the Ouargla region, and several other regions seceding from the union. This scenario is probably the reason why I think what the army is doing is allow the demonstrations to last long enough, the country to go without a government for six to nine months, examinations to be cancelled, economic chaos to start being the norm, before the military takes over and imposes its dictator. But I could be wrong.


    
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