For a year Algeria has been rocked by a peaceful mass movement, the Hirak. In April 2019 it forced president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down after 20 years in power, after he proposed to stand for a 5th term. It then forced the postponement of two presidential elections, in April and July, because people refused simply a change of faces at the top in an unchanged system. Protesters want the removal of an entrenched political class that has held power in Algeria since independence from France in 1962. They demand a civil, not a military state, based on the rule of law. Although the eruption of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced protesters to leave the streets for now, this pamphlet reveals the deep roots of the mass movement in Algeria’s history of popular struggle. Samir Larabi, Shelagh Smith and Hamza Hamouchene explore how the fight to create independent trade unions, the rise of the unemployed movement and the struggle against state oppression in Kabylia have fed into the emergence of the Hirak and assess the movement’s prospects for the future.
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This new Research Report is published with the support of MENA Solidarity. We would like to thank the Transnational Institute (TNI), our national union affiliates NEU, PCS and UCU, and Newham NEU and Lewisham NEU for providing funding towards this project.