On March 14 nearly ten thousand protestors gathered in the southern town of Ouargla which is located near Algeria’s largest producing oil field. They gathered in a nonviolent protest to demand jobs and an end to the rampant corruption taking place in the government.
Algeria is a country that is rich with oil and has a prosperous oil industry, but the majority of the population do not benefit from this wealth. The country is facing unemployment rates as high as 21.5 percent for citizens under the age of 35 and a nationwide unemployment rate of 10 percent (African Review, 2013).This is not sitting well with Algerian citizens and on Thursday they made it known as they shouted, “the people want the downfall of corruption” and anti-government slogans (Aljazeera, 2013).
Although the demonstrators said their demands for jobs and the development of the central and southern regions were strictly social and not aimed at bringing down the government, this could very well be the start of something bigger and more violent. To make matters worse, fifteen unemployed men who attended the protest and had held a previous protest in Ouargla will go on trial on March 26 for being part of an “unarmed gathering.” In a separate case four men were arrested and jailed on March 12 for “illegal gathering” after staging a protest outside the national employment agency.
At Thursday’s protest former Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) activist and Islamist leader Ali Belhadj tried to join the protest but was stopped by security and was not allowed to enter the city. As tensions continue to grow and as the people become more fed up with the government, we could very well see the return of the FIS party along with its supporters. However, it seems that the government has recognized that they need to address these growing concerns and has promised to address youth unemployment in the south, and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal is urging companies in the south to make sure that local job seekers be the priority recipients for jobs in the region. I believe that this is a step in the right direction for the Algerian government, but they still have a long way to go before the Algerian citizens will be satisfied.
"Thousands of Algeria Jobless Protest in Desert Town." African Review. Nation Media Group, 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <http://www.africareview.com/News/Thousands-of-Algeria-jobless-protest-in-desert-town-/-/979180/1720654/-/11quqjv/-/index.html>.
"Thousands Protest Unemployment in Algeria." Aljazeera.com. Al Jazeera, 14 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/03/201331415371252748.html>.