Severity: Warning Alert

Security: Nationwide protests in Algeria likely to persist through at least May. Increased security, business, and transport disruptions likely.

This alert affects Algeria

This alert began 28 Apr 2020 02:41 GMT and is scheduled to expire 10 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Protests
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through May 31
  • Impact: Heightened security, localized road travel disruptions; possible violence

Summary
Anti-government protests in Algeria are likely to persist nationwide through at least May, particularly as authorities are beginning to ease some restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Protesters and opposition political parties have continued with nationwide demonstrations as they demand the overhaul of the entire political system.

Strikes in support of the protesters' demands could also persist through the end of May. Labor unions have frequently called for general strikes nationwide. Labor actions could impact businesses, universities, and schools throughout the country, including in Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Annaba, and Bejaia. Employees of the state-owned National Electricity and Gas Corporation (Sonelgaz) have launched periodic walkouts in the past and may do so in the future. Workers from national oil and gas company Sonatrach have also gone on strike. Additionally, port workers have been on periodic strikes.

Increased security is likely near protests and potential rally locations, such as major government buildings and public squares, in cities nationwide. Demonstrations in Algiers, which could draw tens of thousands of participants, are likely near the Presidential Palace, Martyrs' Boulevard, Place du 1er Mai, Boulevard des Martyrs, Mohammad V Boulevard, Place Maurice Audin, and Grande Poste d'Alger. Police may be quick to resort to force - including the use of tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets - to disperse protesters. Localized road and public transportation disruptions are occurring daily near protest locations. Authorities may shut down public transport services in Algiers and other cities to disrupt the movement and assembly of large groups of people.

Background and Analysis
Nationwide protests that initially began on Feb. 22, 2019 in opposition to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's decision to run for a fifth presidential term have evolved into calls for an overhaul of the country's entire political establishment. Demonstrations may also escalate as the protesters have said they will not accept the result of the December 2019 presidential elections unless the current ruling elite members are removed from power, an eventuality that is unlikely to materialize.

Algeria's economy is heavily dependent on the country's hydrocarbon resources; the collapse of oil prices brought about as a result of COVID-19 will likely worsen the country's economic conditions and prompt further social unrest. Authorities have also begun targeting the country's political dissidents, protest leaders, and government critics by arresting several prominent activists in recent weeks, an act that will further anger the public.

Advice
Monitor local developments closely. Avoid all protests due to the potential for clashes. Allow extra time for travel near likely demonstration sites. Reconfirm the status of public transport during protest periods. Heed the instructions of local security personnel; leave the area immediately if violence breaks out nearby. Maintain contact with your diplomatic mission.


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