Algeria withdraws law stripping citizenship to opponents abroad, big loss for regime hardliners

Of note:

The Algerian regime backed away from issuing a controversial law that would have stripped political opponents abroad of their Algerian nationality. he draft law was presented Wednesday, 3 March by the ultra-hardliner Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati at the Government’s meeting. On Sunday, 4 April, the attempt by extremist nationalists in government has failed and is now considered definitely buried.

The Zeghmati proposed law generated hostile reactions, prompting President Tebboune to announce on Sunday in a TV interview that “There has been misunderstanding and as such, the draft bill was withdrawn.”  Tebboune has also acknowledged that “the bill would have threatened social and national cohesion, as well as state security.”

At the heart of the now-defunct bill is the Algerian regime’s efforts to eliminate any form of opposition, in particular among Algerian opponents abroad. Many such opponents are extremely vocal critics of the regime with hundreds of thousands of online followers.  The Algerian regime has been working extremely hard to discredit any voice that stands with the Hirak pro-democracy movement. In 2019, the regime, headed by the late General Gaid Salah, attempted to divide Algerians along ethnic lines, by demonizing the Amazigh people. The effort has failed miserably. This year, the government’s political police are seeking to create divisions in the Hirak by pitting secularists against Islamist opponents, in particular a group known as the Rachad Movement, who have been the principal targets of the Zeghamati law. It is also going after secular activists, with recent articles in pro-regime press attacking the likes of secular human rights lawyer, Mustafa Bouchachi and many others. Opposition parties are also facing turmoil, with the Algerian political police attempting to create major divisions as in the FFS and the Workers Party.

In response, the Hirak movement remains unimpressed. The latest Friday’s rallies were the biggest to date this year, with almost all cities contributing with their anti-government marches. Slogans used during those marches included references against the military and its notorious intelligence agencies. Protesters have been chanting slogas accusing the military of being “traitors.”

The withdrawal of the Zeghmati law is clearly a major defeat for the hardliners in the regime. However, we expect this faction to remain active in preventing any democratic progress in Algeria

Source: Algeria withdraws law stripping citizenship to opponents abroad, big loss for regime hardliners

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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