World

A look inside the historic mass protests in Algeria

Algeria Protests

For weeks, tens of thousands of protesting Algerians made their demands clear: They wanted Abdelaziz Bouteflika, their ailing, 82-year-old president, to step down after 20 years in power. And they didn’t want to wait.

In a remarkable turn of events, Bouteflika acquiesced Tuesday. But it soon became clear that that wouldn’t be enough.

Fearing an interim government run by Bouteflika’s inner circle, known as “le Pouvoir,” or “the Power,” protesters returned to Algiers’ streets Friday and called for his allies to step down, too. “The people want them all out,” protesters chanted.

Algerian photographer Fethi Sahraoui has been documenting the protests since they started in February.

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

How Algeria got to this point?

Bouteflika, who as a young man fought for Algeria’s independence from France, took over the presidency in 1999 and helped lead the country out of a decade-long civil war that left as many as 200,000 people dead. But then he stayed on and on, consolidating power by eliminating presidential term limits, as pervasive corruption and unemployment drove Algerians to the brink.

In 2013, Bouteflika suffered a stroke and has had to use a wheelchair since, and has largely disappeared from public life. But early this year, he announced that he planned to run for another term.

That’s when protesters first took to the streets in anger.

February 26, 2019

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

March 3, 2019

March 3, 2019

March 3, 2019

March 3, 2019

March 8, 2019

March 8, 2019

March 22, 2019

What comes next?

The demonstrations have remained peaceful — and even had a sense of celebration to them. The mounting frustrations among Algerians drew comparisons to the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 that ousted leaders in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

Some of those who took part have never known another president. What they don’t want now is a new leader who is just an echo of the past.

Rachid Chaibi, an opposition activist, told The Post that “Algerians don’t want a replacement of a facade.” What they want is to rebuild the country “from ground zero.”

“That’s something everyone agrees on,” he said.

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019