He came specially from San Francisco to the United States armed with his smartphone and his pole to film and take photos of this 53rd Friday of the Algerian Hirak which is completing its first year of mobilization. “I could not miss that, from afar, I lived every Friday as an absolute happiness but also as a terrible frustration,” says Kaci, 30, a manager in a computer box on the American West Coast. He calls out to the demonstrators around him, one of them answers him in English to say: “A year after the hirak, we are still there, we are moving forward, we are together, the bearded men, the leftists, the feminists, the young people from working-class neighborhoods, academics… and even state officials are with us. “
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53rd mobilization Friday
All around, on this Friday, February 21, almost a year since the start of the revolution on February 22, thousands of demonstrators also wanted to mark this event with their presence, to commemorate in their own way the birth of this movement which has brings down the Bouteflika system. The president who reigned over Algeria for twenty years was forced by the street and the army to resign on April 2. Since then, every week, almost every day, was rich in political and judicial developments with the dismantling of the Bouteflika regime, its relays and its oligarchs. “We have lived twenty years in one,” says one of the demonstrators, father of an Algerian family, draped in Algerian colors, accompanied by his two daughters, his wife and his mother who, despite their age, repeated the slogans of this 53rd Friday of mobilization: “We are not there to party, but for you to leave. “A way of responding to the will of the authorities who had just declared February 22 as” National Day of Brotherhood and Cohesion between the People and the Army for Democracy “.
“The blessed Hirak saved the country from total collapse […] The national state almost collapsed completely as it did in some countries today in search of mediation for the resolution of their problems, “repeated President Abdelmadjid Tebboune during his latest media releases.
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Cohesion between the army and the people?
However, in terms of cohesion, we are no longer there: if one of the first slogans at the beginning of the hirak was “the army and the people are brothers”, the famous “khawa khawa”, the opinion of the protesters today he claims to “throw the generals in the trash” and to establish “a civil state and not a military one”. In the eyes of the demonstrators and part of the opposition, it was the army, which ensured the interim period since the departure of Bouteflika, who imposed the presidential election of December 12 and its winner. “Some claims expressed previously could not be met by someone who was unelected and lacked the required power and legitimacy”, said Tebboune to the media. This opening speech is criticized by activists who were prevented by the wilaya (prefecture) of Algiers from holding a “unitary meeting” of the hirak in order to reflect on the follow-up to be given to this horizontal popular movement which refuses all leadership and all representation. During the demonstration on Friday, activists distributed the “Manifesto of February 22” which aims to be a consensual synthesis drafted by collectives and coordinations involved in the popular movement. The main demands of this manifesto are “the right of Algerians to establish a new political contract embodying the will of the people” and “the full sovereignty of the people within the framework of a civil, democratic system which goes through a democratic transition flexible guaranteeing the continuity of the State ”.
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Find a new breath for the hirak
“We are trying to find a solution in order to bring together a large number of hirak activists across the country, but the authorities automatically prevent us, we are looking for an alternative way to carry out this project, it is very difficult,” confides a initiators of this approach. “The power praises the hirak, offers an outstretched hand to dialogue but, at the same time, it prohibits any attempt to structure itself, this can only say one thing: that the power considers that this hirak, the one who is being prosecuted after Bouteflika’s fall, must stop, “said another activist.
Change of atmosphere: the day after this 53rd Friday, hundreds of Algerians meet in the city center of the capital on Saturday, not far from the Grande Poste, epicenter of the huge demonstrations of spring 2019. At first, some hesitated to Demonstrate this Saturday, for fear that the authorities and their media relays will recover the images of the crowd and claim that the Algerians celebrated this “national day of fraternity and cohesion between the people and the army for democracy”.
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Clash in Algiers
But the desire to mark the occasion on this February 22 was the strongest. In front of the crowd that was going up the central street of Didouche-Mourad, an impressive cordon of riot police was deployed blocking access to the heights of the city. Because a slogan has circulated since Friday: organize a march on the palace of El Mouradia, seat of the Presidency of the Republic. Water cannon truck and police charges come into play in the afternoon. The crowd disperses for a moment then re-forms in front of the mass of police. Tensions, insults, batons, ebb and flow of demonstrators through the streets and alleys of the hyper city center. At dusk, things settle down but the anger is there. Deaf. A year later, the unfinished taste is very bitter.
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