Bouteflika resigns: can Algeria relax?
After months of mass protests Algeria's longstanding president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced his resignation. In compliance with the constitution the President of the Council of the Nation Abdelkader Bensalah is to become interim president and then call new elections within 90 days. Commentators discuss who really wields the power in the country and note that its path to becoming a true democracy will be full of obstacles.
Citizens need to get organised
The people of Algeria still have a long way to go before they achieve their goal, Le Monde predicts:
“One ruler has been brought down, but the future has yet to be sketched out. And so far there's no telling what it will look like. The opposition movements that were oppressed, crushed or even bought out don't seem able to provide the foundation for a democratic and transparent transition. The army's about-face and its support for the people's demands aren't fooling anyone: it wants to maintain the system in which it is the central pillar, either by ensuring a stable transition process or by organising the transition itself. It's up to the people of Algeria to get organised and press ahead with the new start they have ushered in. And they must continue to show collective intelligence in the months to come.”
Follow Tunisia's example
Algeria must hold democratic presidential elections as quickly as possible, writes Turun Sanomat:
“Some of the demonstrators fear that the army will secure the status of the old rulers and a continuation of corruption and nepotism. With regard to stability in North Africa it is vital that Algeria holds democratic presidential elections. So far the prerequisites for a peaceful transfer of power appear to be fulfilled. The hopes of the Arab Spring were partly realized in Tunisia. Egypt returned to military dictatorship, and in Syria, Yemen and Libya war and chaos prevail. Hopefully Algeria will take Tunisia as its role model.”
Beware of the army
The military leadership can't be trusted, warns Yeni Akit:
“The army's current strategy is to condemn Bouteflika and the groups who back him and to present itself as being on the side of the people. But with this strategy the army is simply increasing its dominance vis-à-vis the political leadership and trying to deceive the people. In Algeria the fundamental problem is that the army dominates the civilian leadership. This prevents the will of the people from being transferred to the civilian leadership. The army's leadership has never been on the people's side. What the people really want is this military junta government to end, free and fair elections to be held and the people to be able to choose the political leadership of its own free will.”
Time also gnawing away at Putin's grip on power
Journalist Igor Yakovenko points to many parallels between the situations in Algeria and Russia in Yezhednevny Zhurnal:
“The main reason [for Bouteflika's resignation] is the country's economic and social decline. More than 30 percent of Algerians under 30 are unemployed. One reason for that is the drop in oil prices. Oil and gas are the foundation of the Algerian economy and represent 30 percent of the country's GDP. ... Corruption, fossil fuels, the oppression of the civil society, 20 years in power, a fifth term in office, overwhelming support in elections, electoral fraud, hypocrisy, the backing of the army and the police. ... Somehow all this seems very familiar to us. Of course, there are a few differences: the wheelchair is missing, Bouteflika is older, and the climate is colder here in Russia. Nevertheless one has to ask which factor works quicker: time or global warming?”