Algeria History: Islamic Fundamentalism

By | August 31, 2021

In this context, the political elections took place at the end of 1991 and in the first round the FIS obtained over 47% of the votes and the certainty of winning an absolute majority in the second round. The result of the first round of the elections of December 1991, in favor of the fundamentalist movement, had the effect of accelerating the Algerian institutional crisis, with the president who resigned under the pressure of the armed forces which, ousting the FLN itself, set up a High Committee of State chaired by Mohamed Boudiaf. Thus began an open civil war, fought with all means and in which the Islamic extremists hit every target in some way connected to the institutions or in any case in the odor of secularism, while the security forces responded with equal harshness, annihilating, whenever the opportunity arose, groups of fundamentalists. Boudiaf himself was the victim of this climate of terror, killed in an attack (June 1992) not yet fully clarified, nor did the appointment of a new head of state, Ali Kafi, succeed in normalizing the situation. In the following years, the spiral of attacks-repression that caused thousands of victims not only among the men of the government forces and among the militants of the Armed Islamic Groups (GIA), but also among important representatives of the government and secular culture (writers, journalists, showmen) and, more generally, among civilians. The fundamentalists then launched a bloody campaign of attacks against foreigners in Algeria in order to completely isolate the country. In 1994 the military carried out a partial renewal of the management team by appointing Liamine Zéroual, former Minister of Defense, as head of state. A decision which, if it did not in itself lead to a mitigation of the armed opposition, nevertheless would have proved to be a harbinger of a strengthening of the regime at least in the medium term. Having taken the road of recovering internal consensus as the only way out of the crisis and absolutely unwilling to make concessions of any kind to the armed opposition, Zéroual dropped and refused the negotiation attempt made in the first months of 1995 by the Roman Community of Sant’Egidio (the same organization that had managed to get the peace plan off the ground in Mozambique). Reaffirmed in 1995, Zéroual undertook a profound reworking of the 1989 Constitution. In particular, the new charter provided for the banning of confessional parties, while giving the president special legislative powers and the faculty to appoint not only the institutional leaders, but also the economic ones and the same magistrates. The text was submitted to a popular referendum (November 1996) and obtained almost 86% of the consensus (a percentage that also raised some suspicions), confirming that adaptation to the new situation that the majority of Algerian society had already expressed previously.. The legislative elections of June 1997 marked the victory of the RND (Rassemblement national démocratique), whose list was headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia. In July 1998, the the entry into force of the law that imposed Arabic as the country’s only official language triggered the protest of the Berber and Francophone communities. The conflict between the military and the GIA guerrillas did not abate even after the announcement, in September 1998, of the resignation of President Zéroual. The early elections for the appointment of the new head of state, held in April 1999 in a climate of tensions, saw the victory of the former foreign minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika, candidate favored by the generals who hold power in the country and the only one left after the withdrawal of candidates from other parties in protest against electoral fraud. In an attempt to obtain full legitimacy for his election, the new president called, in September of the same year, a referendum on “civil harmony”, which had already been approved by a law in July, obtaining an overwhelming victory (98%): with this an act, which in fact sanctioned the partial or total amnesty for thousands of Islamic guerrillas, aimed at laying the foundations for the reintegration of Algeria into the international community. In reality, the situation remained dramatic and the war between the civilian forces and the armed fundamentalist groups showed no sign of abating. In May 2002 the legislative elections, boycotted by most of the opposition (the turnout was the lowest since independence), they recorded the clear affirmation of the former single party FLN (chaired by Prime Minister Ali Benflis, in office since August 2000). In 2003 the country was hit by a disastrous earthquake, which left thousands of dead and injured. During the same year, Ali Benflis and his government resigned due to differences with President Bouteflika, whom he appointed Ahmed Ouyahia to lead a new executive. The 2007 political elections saw a reduced turnout (only 35% of those entitled) and were won by the coalition of parties that supported the president. In June 2008, A. Ouyahia became premier again. In April 2009 Bouteflika was reappointed as president, defeating opposition candidate Louisa Hanoune. In 2010, according to itypejob, Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger set up a coordination structure to combat organized crime and terrorism. The wave of riots that marked the spring of 2011 in the Maghreb countriesit barely touched Algeria: demonstrations against rising prices and for freedom of expression were repressed without however escalating into mass violence. The regime, led for over ten years by A. Bouteflika, lifted the state of emergency in force since 1993. In April 2014, Bouteflika was re-elected. Extensive popular protests began in 2019 against President A. Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term, which led to his resignation in April. The new elections, initially scheduled for July, have been indefinitely postponed by the Constitutional Court.

Algeria History - Islamic Fundamentalism