Algeria: government lifts 19-year state of emergency

The Algerian Council of Ministers on Feb. 22 approved a draft ordinance repealing the country’s 19-year state of emergency, delivering on a promise made the week before. The draft ordinance will have the force of law upon publication in the Official Journal of Algeria, which the Council of Ministers said would be “imminent.” The state of emergency, which has been in place since a series of decrees in 1992, gave the government power to limit political freedoms and even peaceful protests. Opponents also claimed that the state of emergency gave rise to arbitrary detentions.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced earlier in the month that the order would be lifted and maintained that protests have not been discouraged: “[n]o law or order has ever forbidden any legal formation or association.” However, he declared the capital of Algiers would remain off-limits to protests. Anti-government protests began in January, in defiance of the state of emergency’s stipulations. The protests in the capital Feb. 12 were met by riot police, although little violence was reported.

Algeria has been under a state of emergency since 1992 when the military annulled elections faced with a win by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). Bouteflika came to power, winning the presidency in 1999 with 70% of the official vote and appearing to have the backing of the military.

From Jurist, Feb. 23. Used with permission.

See our last posts on Algeria and the revolutions in the Maghreb.