Friday, 8 April 2011

Algeria: More infighting among the regime

Our sources in Algeria have confirmed that infighting among clans has got noticeably worse in the last week or so. We can, of course, speculate that this has something to do with the decline in the president's health. Our sources explained, however, that it is because the clans cannot agree on how to make the urgently needed political changes while at the same time ensuring they retain power.

We are also hearing reports that more and more young officers are criticising both of the major clans; by which we understand that to mean the presidency and the DRS. We would certainly not go so far as to suggest that this indicates the making of a military coup. Nevertheless, the longer the situation drags on without any meaningful decisions coming out of the regime, the greater the build-up of frustration across what is a highly professional, educated and potentially powerful 'middle-rank' officer class.

Algeria has more than enough precedents for army officers to effect a coup d'├ętat, and there are many Algerians who see such a coup as the most straightforward way of ridding the country of a thoroughly decrepit, illegitimate and corrupt regime before it does the country more lasting damage.

In neighbouring Niger, it took a handful of army officers, one in particular, precisely 12 months to affect a military coup, oust President Mamadou Tandja, hold a referendum on a new constitution and return the country to a full-blown, democratically elected civilian government. This is a remarkable achievement by African standards; and one that could easily be emulated in Algeria.

In fact, even within the administration, more and more people are openly questioning whether the current situation is tenable. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia is “definitely showing all the signs of living on another planet”, to quote one opposition figure, and is creating more trouble for the regime every time he speaks, with even his political friends being openly critical of his interventions.

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

© 2011 Menas Associates

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