Until Monday, March 11, it was the people of Algeria against the country’s 82-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He has been in power since 1999, and the state news agency announced in February that he would run for an unprecedented fifth term, and this despite his poor health and the country’s deep economic crisis. Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, the world’s largest Arab country, and the largest in Africa.
Previously there had been little public opposition to the seemingly endless reign of the country’s “phantom president”, but this time protests erupted and grew. Despite efforts to intimidate protestors with dark threats of a “Syrian scenario” – civil war – in the end, the government blinked: On March 11 Bouteflika announced he would no longer seek a fifth term, adding somewhat enigmatically, “for me there has never been any question of it”.
2) I will behave as a dignified and civilized man,
3) I will be equipped with water and vinegar [to clean their faces in case tear gas is used].
4) I will not respond to any provocation,
5) I will isolate and send to the police any “baltaguias” [agents provocateurs] 6) I will not throw a single stone,
7) I will not break a single window,
8) I will not speak a single word that is out of line,
9) I will not touch people or things,
10) I will smile at police and gendarmes,
11) I will offer women roses, [presumably allegorical for treating women with respect] 12) I will share water with those who are thirsty,
13) I will watch over the elderly, women, and children,
14) I will walk with determination,
15) I will forge through wind and high water,
16) The Novemberists will look down fondly upon me [the Algerian independence activists who launched the anti-colonial insurrection in November 1954].
17) I will clean streets and plazas after each march,
18) I will teach a lesson to and serve as a model for onlookers