Demonstrations broke out recently in the Algerian town of Laghouat, south of the capital, Algiers, as locals demanded the resignations of officials after a rehousing scheme was deemed corrupt.
The aim of the scheme was to relocate dozens of families residing in slums into state-paid homes, but some families ended up living in worse conditions prior to relocation. They became homeless because they weren’t qualified for the scheme.
Previous homes were bulldozed the instant rehousing came into effect.
Beli Ahmed and his family were amongst the unfortunate ones. He said that authorities asked him for a bribe in exchange for being put on top of the waiting list, a clear indication of corruption. Benchabi, another resident, said they showed no mercy as they tore down her home.
Protests in front of the governor’s house have been continuous for the past week, as hundreds of residents expressed their anger at the dismal living conditions. There is a risk that demonstrations would spread.
Thousands of families in Algeria have already been relocated under the scheme which is part of state program to provide 1 million new housing units by 2014.
Algeria is a main oil and gas exporter, yet despite its wealth in resources, the government has failed to swiftly accommodate millions of families living in substandard conditions or alleviate unemployment.
A parliamentary election is scheduled for May, which could instigate an outburst of frustration from residents as to how the country is addressing such issues.