Pulling Algeria Back from the Brink

Article Summary
While change sweeps the Arab World, Algeria will not remain untouched. Following the uprisings, reform has become a necessity in all Arab nations, including Algeria, which currently stands on the brink of a return to chaos and violence. Such reforms must not remain cosmetic, but rather stem from the people’s will to achieve their aspirations for a better future, argues Dr. Ahmad Ben Baytour.

Amidst the major transformations taking place in the Arab world today, we have the right to ask: Where do we stand in all this volatility?  What can be done in Algeria?

Our society has lost all the historical references and moral values which were lauded by the international community. It has regressed into a generalized societal backwardness and kind of violence which cannot long be contained. Predation, bureaucracy and corruption have become the administrative legacies of the inefficient and decaying ruling elite.

Change has become more urgent today than ever. However, it must not stem from the good intentions of the ruling authorities, or be limited to cosmetic reforms which help polish the regime’s image while it remains at the top of the pyramid of power in our country. The current situation requires the adoption of a new and entirely different program within a landmark political framework, putting an end to the violations and abuses we have experienced since independence.

However, such a program will remain incomplete if the sense of patriotism is not nurtured and promoted, and if mutual trust among the people is not restored. A new political system derived from the people themselves must be established - a system rooted deeply in [Algerian] society and which meets all the aspirations of the people, paving the way for a better and brighter future. In other words, reform must take place on the [grand] scale which [the people] have so long waited for. Starting from now, we must establish - in very short order - credible institutions accepted by all parties, avoiding any form of [sectarian] imbalance that could send the country spiralling back towards chaos.

We believe that the rule of law must prevail in all nations, whatever the circumstances. Transparency must become the norm so as to prevent any distortion of the rules in modern society. Equality will put a stop to any form of deviation and correct deficiencies and imbalances, of whatever nature.

Above all, we believe we ought to preserve the values of the Algerian people, by which they have long been distinguished: Courage, bravery, creativity and a great sense of solidarity in just causes will drive the Algerians to rebuild their country, which now stands on the verge of tragedy, violence and bloodshed.

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