Despite Algeria’s recent economic growth and domestic stability, the government’s refusal to address the legacy of its violent civil war threatens its long-term stability, argues a new paper from the Carnegie Endowment. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to push forward his “Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation” without public input or dialogue has undermined the prospect for true reconciliation.

In Algeria Under Bouteflika: Civil Strife and National Reconciliation, Algeria expert Rachid Tlemçani examines the implementation of Bouteflika’s efforts to restore stability to the country and move beyond the legacy of civil war. 

 Key points:

  • The charter purportedly closes the investigation into the more than 10,000 Algerians who went missing during the civil war, but provides no mechanism for families who remain unsatisfied by the secretive manner in which the government investigated the atrocities and its decision to grant blanket clemency.
     
  • Bouteflika’s decision to implement his charter through a presidential decree, followed by a hasty public referendum and government approval while parliament was not in session, undermines the legitimacy of the reconciliation efforts.
     
  • Bouteflika has only partially succeeded in his efforts to sever the traditional link between the government and the military. Algeria’s security services, empowered by their involvement with the U.S.–led war on terror, continue to wield considerable influence over the government appointments and party politics.

“Algerian officials, led by President Bouteflika, decided to ignore the experience of other countries, to grant blanket amnesty and to pacify victims’ families with money rather than information, in hopes of turning the page on a dark period of Algerian history as soon as possible. That haste merely postpones a crisis that is likely to break out in the future as unreconciled grievances from the decade of civil war become enmeshed in growing socioeconomic and identity tensions in the country. Then the prospects for reconciliation and the reinforcement of human rights in Algeria will become even dimmer,” concludes Tlemçani.

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About the Author
Rachid Tlemçani
was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center and a visiting scholar in the Carnegie Endowment’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He has published numerous articles and several books on Algerian politics, including Elections et Elites en Algerie (2003), Etat, Bazar et Globalisation: L’aventure de L’Infitah en Algerie (1999) and State and Revolution in Algeria (1986).