Abdelaziz Bouteflika is no longer president of the Republic as of Tuesday, April 2, 2019. This is the first victory of the entire people since they erupted onto the streets of the country’s cities and municipalities on February 22 to oppose « a fifth term » of the incumbent president.
It’s a first victory only because all the demands of the masses expressed over the past six weeks have not been met with the final exit of the outgoing president: The people have demanded, and continue to demand, « Down with the System Let the People Speak! »
But it is still victory for the people that was wrested with the mass marches, demonstrations, rallies, strikes, and the struggle for the independence of trade union organizations, especially the historic trade union confederation of workers: the UGTA. The people, especially the workers, have shown « that everything is possible! » This initial victory will undoubtedly strengthen the people’s resolve to continue their mobilizations in support of their own aspirations, including their right to decide for themselves.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika left the presidency of the Republic, forced out by this mass movement — but he did so while opening the way to an « exit » from the crisis that preserves the regime and ensures its continuity. Bouteflika leaves, but the system remains: the National Assembly, the National Council, the Constitutional Council, the recently installed government… all remain in place. The men and women who were in his political orbit do too. It is one of them — Abdelkader Bensalah, president of the National Council — who now will be in charge of the interim presidency for 90 days, as provided for in the current Constitution, which itself has been targeted by the protesting people as illegitimate.
Bouteflika’s departure, requested more recently by Army Chief of Staff Gaid Salah and by former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, does not reunite the various factions of the regime nor does it resolve the regime’s crisis, which continues to deepen.
Gaid Salah, head of the Army, who claims to be an ally of the people in protest after having been the main supporter of the outgoing president, is pursuing his own objectives: to ensure the continuity of the regime by putting the military hierarchy back at the center and setting up his
own oligarchs in the place of those who prospered under the shadow of the Bouteflika presidency.
All the crisis exit plans, whether they come from the various factions and clans of the regime or from the so-called opposition, turn their backs on the deep aspiration of millions of demonstrators, namely that Algeria be built by the sovereign people for the sovereign people.
What the people want and continue to want is not that the characters at the head of the institutions give way to other characters, what the people want is other institutions. « Down with the System! Down with the Regime! » are the cries calling to make way for another regime, another system.
The Organizing Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI in its French acronym) shares, with many of our fellow citizens, young people, women and workers, the conviction that it is up to the people to decide their future; it is up to the people to establish themselves as constituent people through their Sovereign Constituent Assembly.
There is one way to do this, one that has been charted for more than a month: organizing the mobilization by workers and young people themselves, with their unions uprooted from State control, with their independent unions, their autonomous unions, their UGTA sections that have regained their sovereignty, with their committees, etc. This movement cannot stop until full democracy is established. It is up to the Sovereign Constituent Assembly, representing all the people, to carry out this task.
For our part, we believe that such a Sovereign Constituent Assembly would allow the representatives of the people not only to decide on the form of the new institutions, but also on their content, because the people want to be able to decide:
that young people are entitled to a real diploma, a real job, a real salary,
that all the nation’s wealth, especially hydrocarbons, be returned to the working people,
that all privatizations be cancelled, that all public services be restored.
It is through this means that the way will be paved for this new Algeria for which we have all been working since February 22nd.
Algiers, April 3rd, 2019