The Algerian people are not unaccustomed to violence. Their brave struggle for independence from 1954 to 1962 cost many lives – a price considered worth paying to end 132 years of French rule. But the civil conflict that erupted in Algeria in 1992 after the regime cancelled elections (in December 1991) that FIS (an Islamic group) was about to win proved more destructive and lasted longer. Moreover, the lull in violence evaporated last year, when suicide bombers struck several times, culminating in the twin explosions on December 11 in Algiers that cost dozens of lives.
The rising tide of public corruption in Algeria – an issue that was never the centre of concern before – has now forced the regime to address it. The senior military officers who have really ruled the country since its independence in 1962, and the civilian politicians who have been a cloak for them, have focused their attention on fighting Islamic groups, rather than controlling a practice that they obviously benefit from.
When Algerian press-reports in mid-October alleged that president Abdul-Aziz Bouteflika’s failure to appoint a cabinet since his inauguration in April was because of interference from Algeria’s generals, he was indignant.
Algerian president Abdul Aziz Bouteflika claimed a major victory in the September 16 referendum on his ‘progress towards peace’. The results, announced by the ministry of the interior the next day, showed that 98.63 percent of voters had answered ‘yes’ to the single question...