The demonstrators maintained the peacefulness of the protests, and the style that characterized the Algerian popular movement for a year, before it stopped in March 2020, due to the (Covid 19) pandemic and the accompanying quarantine measures.
Peaceful marches in varying numbers
The marches roamed the streets of Algiers, before settling in Oden Street and the Central Post in the center of the capital, and the marches did not witness any acts of violence, sabotage, or altercations with security personnel.
As is the custom of the Hirak rallies, the main destination was the Central Post Square in the center of Algiers, and it is the square that has turned into a landmark for the popular movement since thousands made the pilgrimage to it on February 22, 2019 to stop the path of Bouteflika’s fifth term.
The protesters raised slogans calling for more freedoms, and among the most prominent slogans that were introduced during this day was the slogan (neither Islamist nor secular) and (The people want independence).
In addition, pictures and videos of similar rallies, albeit in a smaller size, have spread on social media, witnessed in several states across the country, most notably the Kabylie region, the states of Tizi Ouzou, Bejaia, Bouira, Bordj Bourej, Mostaganem, Constantine, Jijel, Setif and Oran.
The economist Ismail Lalmas (considered one of the most prominent opposition figures who participated in the dialogue with the authority during the era of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, before announcing his retreat) confirmed that what Algeria is experiencing today is a return to the popular movement.
“The system must understand that the street has logical demands, which want to contribute to building Algeria’s image,” he said.
For his part, the head of the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) party, Mohsen Bel Abbas, appealed to the authorities to listen to the people’s demands, and said: “We went out to restore the movement because the demands that we raised two years ago have not been fulfilled. We continue the peaceful march, and the Algerians are thirsty for a state of rights and democracy.”
The authority fulfilled many of the demands of the movement
These marches come after months, during which the authority made strides in political reform, starting with amending the constitution, and the accompanying opening of the doors for discussion for all actors, whether parties, civil society and national figures.
More than 500 parties participated in preparing the draft constitution and submitted more than 5,000 proposals, the most prominent of which was the constitution of the popular movement, considering February 22nd as a national day that emphasizes the people’s cohesion with the army.
The preamble to the constitution reads: “The people express their eagerness to translate their ambitions into this constitution by bringing about profound social and political transformations in order to build a new Algeria, peacefully demanded by the genuine popular movement that began on February 22, 2019.”
An expert in constitutional law, Bouzid Lazhari, affirmed that the new constitution guarantees human rights, meets the demands of the popular movement, and contributes to building the state that the founding fathers dreamed of for the first November statement.
And in all his media output, since his election as president on December 12, 2019, President Taboun has not forgotten to salute the popular movement.
In his last speech to the nation last week, Tebboune said: “The rallies that we are proud of for the original blessed movement, which is the movement that dazzled all countries and saved Algeria from tragedy, especially when elections were accepted with all political spirit.”
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Hirak, the President issued a presidential pardon, from which 60 prisoners who were described by the President Tebboune as “the Hirak detainees.” The pardon included the most prominent prisoners whose rallies the Hirak demanded their release, such as journalist Khaled Dararni and political activist Rashid Nkaz.
After two years of mobility, it is noticed that many of the opposition political parties are describing the authority’s options and see the need to go to the legislative elections called for by the authority.
There are also many voices in Algeria today that oppose the movement and call for political solutions.
Skepticism and a foreign agenda
Supporters of change through dialogue and those who reject the idea of ”wanasu ‘kaa”, meaning “they all leave,” see that this idea, to which some voices are marketed in the movement, is outdated by time as it pushes the country into the unknown and the political vacuum, including chaos and the Libyan scenario.
The head of the Algerian Youth Academy, Mr. Bouaziz Samir, told “Sky News Arabia”: “Today we are facing the occasion of the second anniversary of the blessed movement, which is a national day of cohesion and brotherhood between the people and their army for democracy.”
Bouaziz affirmed that the movement achieved its basic demands thanks to peace, and said: “Algeria has reached the stage of rebuilding institutions through elections, after the president issued a decision to dissolve the National People’s Assembly in preparation for the legislative elections scheduled to be held within a maximum of months as stipulated in the constitution.”
Bouaziz indicated that the problem of some voices in the movement was able to raise crippling demands that seek to push for the dissolution of national institutions.
The movement’s opponents believe that there are hidden agendas working towards creating chaos.
Bouaziz said: “The matter has become visible to the suspicious movements and there are agendas that do not want good for Algeria and seek to exploit the people’s sentiments by directing the movement despite the regional challenges Algeria faces.”
Waiting for a power reaction
In its January issue, the editorial of the Algerian People’s National Army spoke of the “conspiracy”.
The Army magazine said: “Parties have moved their pawns and instructed the voices of ill-intentioned people due to their association with foreign agendas that have become known to the public and the private in order to circumvent the legitimate demands of the people and spread their poisons in an attempt to push the country into chaos and shuffle the cards in a way that serves its interests and malicious ends within a scheme aimed primarily at striking The credibility enjoyed by the People’s National Army, and hence the strong relationship that binds the people to their army. “
Political analyst Radwan Bohdil summarizes the scene, saying: “Demonstration is a constitutional right guaranteed to every citizen in New Algeria, and it cannot be confirmed whether the slogans are an extension of the movement or new demands in the end.”
Bohdel said to “Sky News Arabia”: “There is a number of demands raised, and the people in the street today have committed themselves to a peaceful and civilized way. These demands need a response in all cases, and we are awaiting the reaction of the authority about these marches, which cannot be described as protests because they are distinguished.” Peaceful. “