The leader of Algerian Movement of Society for Peace Abdelmadjid Menasra considered that democracy is lost in the country and decision-making will be transferred to the army if the current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika decided not to run for a fifth term in 2019.
Menasra believed that the upcoming municipal elections on 23rd of this month will not bring a new political scene given that the administration organizing the elections will not change its methods.
Speaking with Asharq Al-Awsat, Menasra stated that over the past 22 years, Algeria had organized five presidential, five parliamentary, and four municipal elections as well as four referendums; which is about an election per year. He added that this means that Algeria is experienced in organizing elections, but this experience had been voided of its content because “elections in my country is no longer a mechanism citizens can resort to change their conditions.”
Menasra confirmed that elections in Algeria are mostly a process to consolidate what already exists. He added that polls are no longer organized in a manner that allows change, stating: “we live in a democracy that doesn’t allow any change.”
He described the situation in Algeria as “change within the framework of continuity” meaning a unilateral within a democracy. He did, however, admit that elections are not fully forged, but he believes that there is a limited margin for freedom of choice and this doesn’t reflect the aspirations of the Algerians.
Menasra stated that his movement is fighting to reach “real democracy”.
The movement’s leader stressed that his party will not succumb to this bad situation, but will deny and resist and aim to change the situation by participating in the elections rather than boycotting it.
Menasra is convinced that victory will be “their ally”, but not necessarily in the upcoming elections to be held after three weeks.
When asked about parties calling for the boycott of the polls, Menasra said that those who were absent from important elections previously ended up participating after they were convinced that refusing to participate will achieve nothing.
In 2012, and following the Arab Spring, Society for Peace withdrew from the government, and according to Menasra, the decision to participate in the cabinet will be determined in suitable time and according to the situation. He added that if they won the majority in the elections, it means the people want the movement to form the government, and until that happens it will remain part of the opposition.
Menasra addressed the ongoing dispute concerning the 2019 presidential elections and stated that if the President sat out this term, decision-making will move to the army.
When asked about Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel accusations against Moroccan banks, Mensara said that even though they belong to the opposition, Society for Peace is Algerian and agrees with the government’s foreign policy.
On October 20, Messahel accused Morocco at a Forum of Algerian Business Leaders (FCE) of “laundering” drug money in Africa via domestic banks.
However, Menasra said that the minister’s statement doesn’t abide by diplomatic conventions and doesn’t reflect Algeria’s reputation. He admitted that he was surprised by what the minister said, and added that indeed there is a crisis with Morocco, but the attack is not right and mistakes shouldn’t become a policy.
After Messahel accused Moroccan banks and airlines of transporting and selling drugs, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the “irresponsible” statements.
The ministry summoned the chargé d’affaires at the Algerian embassy in Rabat to protest the accusations.
The officials told the Algerian chargé d’affaires that Messahel’s allegations were “irresponsible” and even “childish,” especially as they were made by a chief diplomat whose duty is to represent his country’s position internationally.
“For Doing Business, today in North Africa, there is only Algeria. Neither Egypt, nor Libya, or Tunisia, or Morocco. Egypt has big economic problems. This country spends its time lending money. However, we have paid our debt in advance. Tunisia has enormous difficulties,” said Messahel.
Menasra said that the minister discussed economic issues that he is not familiar with, adding that foreign investments in Algeria are “very weak” because of the bureaucracy and investment law.
Strangely, the government encourages merchandise imports and imposes impossible conditions on foreign investment, according to Menasra.
“This is a striking contradiction and fake patriotism that some officials claim to own,” he concluded.