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Algeria: Democratic aspirations unite secularists and Islamists

Secular and Islamic opposition in Algeria unanimously agreed during a conference Tuesday on the need for democratic transition in the country.

Tuesday’s conference is considered the largest since the start of pluralistic politics in Algeria in 1988. It brought together politicians from across the political spectrum, who once fought deadly battles in the past.

The conference brought together 400 Islamist and secular politicians, along with independents. These include former prime ministers Moloud Hamroush, Ali Bin Fleis and Ahmed Bin Bitor, in addition to leaders of the banned Islamic Salvation Front.

Inside the conference halls, banners in Arabic and Amazigh called for a transitional phase, justice, ending political constraints, and respecting freedom and democracy.

Leader in the banned ISF Abdel Kader Boukhamkham said that he took part in the conference as a representative of his party, stressing that his party “still exists in the political arena and has never been absent.” He added that his party “does not mind engaging with secularists and democrats,” whom he considered “brothers and fellow Algerians.”

The conference revealed how the political discourse of the banned ISF has notably changed, shifting more towards advocating dialogue with secularists. That shift has been considered by the Algerian Muslim Brotherhood (the Peace Society Movement), as a quantum leap in their political practice.

Ali Bin Fleis, the major rival of president Abdel-Aziz Boutaflika in the latest elections, said that Algeri is passing through a “political crisis which cannot be resolved except by changing the regime.”

He lashed out at the discussions around constitutional amendments held by the presidency, pointing out that “these amendments will not contribute to a change in the repressive nature of the regime, or subjecting the regime to popular oversight.”

Leader of the Algerian MB Abdel-Razeq Maqri considered June 10 a historic day “because it symbolizes the ability of the opposition to unite their stances.”

Former secretary general of the Socialist Forces’ Front Karim Tabou said that the conference is the beginning of bringing down dictatorship in Algeria.

 

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