about icg 
  Latin America 
  Middle East 
  by region 
  by date 
  by keyword 
  media releases 
  articles/op. eds 
  media contacts 
contact us 
donate to icg 

 home  programs  middle east  egypt/north africa  algeria
  Algeria: Unrest and Impasse in Kabylia

Cairo/Brussels, 10 June 2003: The International Crisis Group (ICG) today releases a new report Algeria: Unrest And Impasse In Kabylia* analysing the ongoing unrest in Algeria's Kabylia region and the political stalemate that is blocking prospects for resolution.

Algeria: Unrest and Impasse in Kabylia* argues that the mass protests and violence sparked in April 2001 and continuing today are not simply a local or ethnic disturbance. Rather, Kabylia's problems are principally a result of inadequate political representation. The recent invitation by the new head of the government, Ahmed Ouyahia, to engage the protest movement in dialogue is welcome, but much more will need to be done to resolve what is also a broader national problem.

In order to break the impasse in Kabylia the regime, the Kabyle political parties and the popular protest movement known as the "Coordinations" must reconsider their behaviour and goals.

The "Coordinations" movement has been losing public support and must reject the use of violence if it is to regain the moral high ground. It should abandon the aim of preventing elections, break explicitly with Kabyle-regionalist and communitarian sentiments and focus on realistic, attainable objectives. And it should reach out to other democratic movements in civil society and invite dissidents to return to the movement.

ICG North Africa Project Director Hugh Roberts said, "The weakness of the movement is partly responsible for its inability to expand beyond Kabylia or to achieve its principal goals. Its failure would represent a tragic waste of the energies and good intentions it originally mobilised. The "Coordinations" must recognise their mistakes and take a new direction if they are to contribute to a genuine democratic dynamic in the country."

Significant responsibility also lies with Kabyle political parties and the Algerian government. Outflanked by the "Coordinations," unable to present serious proposals of their own, the political parties reacted by investing in the protest movement and projecting their own political rivalry onto it. As for the government, crippled by its internal divisions and resistance to change, it has failed to respond effectively to the movement's legitimate demands, thereby contributing to its degeneration into a form of unrealistic and intolerant radicalism that alienated public support.

ICG Middle East and North Africa Program Director Robert Malley said: "The unrest in Kabylia is a manifestation of the fundamental problem that has plagued Algeria since independence - the absence of adequate political institutions for the orderly representation of interests and expression of grievances. President Bouteflika has made real progress in reducing the Islamist rebellion and restoring Algeria's international standing and state finances. Now is the time to address the problem of the deficit of representation head on, for the sake of both the Algerian state and its people."

The Algerian government should acknowledge publicly that the "Coordinations" have raised valid concerns, make good on its proposal of dialogue with the Coordinations and address their legitimate demands, including providing compensation for victims and punishment of gendarmes and other security officers guilty of human rights abuses. It also should take steps to improve investment and economic prospects in Kabylia. Above all, the regime should strengthen the various elected assemblies so that representatives of the people finally can hold government to account.

Katy Cronin (London) +44 20 7981 0330 [email protected]
Francesca Lawe-Davies (Brussels) +32-(0)2-536 00 65
Kathy Ward (Washington) +1-202-785 1601
*Read the full ICG report on our website: www.crisisweb.org

The International Crisis Group (ICG) is an independent, non-profit, multinational organisation, with over 90 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.


copyright privacy sitemap