Algerians are mounting pressure on President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika to follow in the footsteps of his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Mursi and sack senior army generals.
Mursi’s decision, seen by many as the end of the military rule in Egypt, instigated Algerians to bring back to life an article proposed in the 1956 Le congrès de la Soummam, organized by the Free Liberation Front during the Algerian war of independence.
The article stipulated that the political body takes precedence over the military in the system of governance. The article, however, was never implemented and the country was seized by the military following the 1965 coup.
The army’s role in the unrest that started in 1991 with the cancellation of election results in which Islamists scored an unprecedented victory is also another factor which made Algerians keen on curbing military influence in the country.
“Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi gave us hope with the changes he implemented, which were very timely,” said one comment on the website of the daily newspaper al-Khabar.
The comment added that Bouteflika should take a similar “daring step” that would prove to his people that he keeps his promises.
“Would Bouteflika be able to sack the generals?” wondered another reader. “He was not even able to change the government despite all the problems that necessitate doing so.”
“Why would Mursi be able to sack army generals while Bouteflika is not?” asked another reader. “He can’t even fight corruption and better the deteriorating conditions of the country.”
According to one of the readers, the comparison between Mursi and Bouteflika is not valid since the first was democratically elected following a revolution that toppled a corrupt regime while this is not the case in Algeria.
“How can Bouteflika sack the generals while he knows that he became president after a deal was struck with the military.”
Algeria, the same reader added, had an excellent opportunity to hold free and fair elections in 1999 yet the army stepped in.
Another comment said that when a president is democratically elected, he is backed up by his people and that is why he is capable of making such critical decisions.
“He knows that it is not the army that is protecting him and that is why he is not afraid of them.”
Meanwhile, journalist Nessim Lakhal said that Mursi refused to be “three quarters of a president” in reference to a phrase Bouteflika said to his people in an attempt to convince them that he has the full powers of a president.
“The difference is that Bouteflika only said it but Mursi actually did it,” he wrote on his account on the social networking website Facebook.
Another journalist said that what is happening in Egypt saddens Algerians because their political life is pretentious.
“For 20 years, we have been living in fake pluralism and representing fake opposition,” the reporter wrote on his Facebook account.
Meanwhile, writer and journalist Saad Buokba called upon Algerians to launch a protest movement under the title “50 years are enough” in reference to the time that has passed since Algeria obtained its independence from France.
“We need a real protest movement that comes from the people like Kefaya in Egypt and its main purpose should be ridding the country of corruption and tyranny.”