Monday, 19 July 2010

Ramadan coincides with pending unrest among the independent trade unions

The government is already worried about this year's Ramadan, notably the coincidence (10th September) of Aid El Fitr (the festival marking the end of Ramadan), the start of the new school year, and the likelihood of renewed unrest among the independent trade unions.

Much of the social unrest that has been sweeping the country on a more or less continuous basis over the last couple of years is related to people's living conditions, in which food prices play a major role. Hence the government's fear that the country's highly corrupt meat market will be manipulated, as is usual, to ramp up prices (and hence profits) over the Ramadan period. The government is, therefore, making efforts, without any clear signs of success, to import meat from the Sudan, India and almost anywhere else it can find it, in a bid to stop market manipulation.

The tradition of Ramadan is that it is period when prices go down, through various means including charitable provision, to assist the poorer elements of society. In Algeria, it appears that this tradition has been effectively reversed since 1992. With the ultimate corruption of the state in 1992, the regime has progressively lost whatever control it ever had over either prices or the semblance of an open market. The meat market across the country is estimated to be in the hands of some 80-90 people whose identities are not widely known but who are commonly believed to be closely linked to the country's 200 or more 'Generals', including and especially those in the DRS.

Thus, as elements within the government, fearing that a meat shortage and price manipulation could spark the unrest that the government most fears, are trying to ramp up and subsidise meat imports as a matter of urgency, the 'Generals' market', as it is known, appears bent on using the Ramadan shortage to once again cream off its unwarranted profits.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria please Algeria Focus, Sahara Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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