Committee Reports::Report - Algeria::04 June, 1998::Appendix


The Centre for Maghreb Studies

16 Grosvenor Crescent

London SWIX 7EP



Text of an address to the Foreign Affairs Committee

of the Irish Parliament

held on April 8th, 1998

Dublin, Ireland

Professor Abdelhamid Brahimi

Former Prime Minister of Algeria (1984-1998)



Dr. Abdelhamid Brahimi *


The present situation in Algeria is very serious from every point of view. Algeria has never experienced such a degree of deterioration since political independence in 1962.

The Algerian authorities present the political crisis existing since the annullment of the parliamentary election in January 1992 as the result of the ‘Islamic threat’ which is threatening the country and its institutions. They would have people believe that it is only this crisis which is opposing the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) to power. This is a simplistic version which deceives nobody in Algeria.

This is why certain truths must be recalled and emphasised so that the real dimension of the present crisis may be outlined, as well as the stakes involved today in Algeria and which will determine the future of the Algerian people over the next ten years.

In fact, the evil is deep-seated and has been brewing for a very long time. The truth is that the crisis which Algeria has been stoking up for a long time has many aspects: political, economic, social, moral and civilisational.

Today, two possible ways lie before the country.

The first alternative is for the government to carry on its policy of “eradication” introduced in January 1992 following the coup d’état organised by the generals, former officers in the French army. In this case, Algeria will plunge deeper into a crisis which is already very complex, and which will grow worse in every way in the next future. This course, relying on severe repression for six years, has demonstrated, however, the madness of the illusions shared by the generals responsible for the coup d’état and their isolation from the Algerian people and the representative political parties and their continuation in office by the use of force in order to protect their illegal privileges.

*Dr. Abdelhamid Brahimi, former Prime Minister (1984-1988), currently Director of the Centre for Maghreb Studies, London, is the author of several books, in particular : Dimensions et perspectives du monde arabe, Economica, Paris 1977, 391 pages: Stratégies de développement pour l’Algérie, (1962-1991), Paris, 1991, Economica, 425 pages; Justice sociale et développement en économie islamique, Paris, 1993, La Pensée Universelle, 310 pages; Le Maghreb á la croisée des chemins á l’ombre des transformations mondiales (1956-1995), Hoggar et Centre for Maghreb Studies, Genéve/London, juin 1996, 448 pages.

The political crisis became tragic when the FIS won 188 seats out of 220 in the first round of the election in December 1991. (i.e. more than 80% of the seats), while being well placed for the second round. Then, the army seized power, deposing President Chadli and declaring the parliamentary elections null and void.

The generals involved in the putsch justified the coup d’état with the following arguments;

1)The FIS wanted to seize power by force (sic).

2)If the FIS came to power, it would not respect the Constitution and would ruin the country politically and economically.

3)The need to achieve order and to reestablish the authority of the state.

4)The need to organise an economic take-off and to fight against unemployment, etc. But, in fact:

- it was the ‘putsch’ generals who failed to respect the Constitution, the laws, and basic human rights;

- insecurity became widespread, extending over the whole of the country where the authority of the state has disappeared over recent years;

- the political, social and economic situation has deteriorated dramatically.

What, in fact, did happen after the coup d’état of January 1992?

THE PERIOD 1992-1997


The main question to be asked is, why has the situation continuously deteriorated from a security standpoint for over six years now. Blame is mainly to be laid on the regime, which took the responsibility of carrying out a coup d’état. It then stopped the democratic process and resorted to a dramatically repressive policy, ranging from arrests of civilians upon simple administrative decision, and their imprisonment in inhuman conditions of detention for years without being judged, to extra judicial executions of innocent people.

The Algerian people have been hurt in their dignity since the coup d’état of 1992. The regime continues to use force as a means of countering the political ideas and beliefs of people.

The putschist generals of the “party of France”, representative of a political class that had become rotten and corrupt, will stop at nothing to maintain their regime, because they are afraid of losing power and their illegitimate privileges in the event the Islamists and patriots democratically win the national elections. They have neither political nor economic programs. Their policy relies on repression.

The putschist generals of the “party of France”, are supported in Algeria by a marginal minority who are “democrats” on the surface and for show, and who, besides, were all eliminated by the popular verdict during the free legislative elections of December 1991 and who publicly called for the cancellation of these elections. They are isolated from the masses and the credible political parties and are lacking of legitimacy.

Outside Algeria, the military regime is backed by France. It is worth recalling that Francois Mitterand, the French President in office in 1992, was minister of interior in November 1954 when he declared that the only way to negotiate with the FLN was “war by every means”, and that Charles Pasqua, minister of interior between 1993 and 1995 who supported the Algerian military regime, was involved in our National Liberation War as a parachutist in the French Army. His special adviser for Algeria when he was minister of interior, was Jean-Claude Marchiani, a former parachutist who fought against the liberation of Algeria. He was assisted by the the French pieds noirs former active members of the Secret Armed Organisation (OAS), famous for its crimes against innocent Algerians and for its destructive activities on the eve of the independence of Algeria. This French group whose presence is strong at the top of the French Administration and the intelligence services, is trying to have their revenge and to perform, through the putschist generals in Algeria the dirty job they could not achieve themselves during our National Liberation War. Some of other examples illustrate the involvement of France in the Algerian crisis:

*We have the proof of a telephonic conversation between President Mitterand and general Khaled Nezzar on the eve of the coup d’état of January 1992 when Mitterand encouraged Nezzar saying: “we will give you help, you can go ahead…”

*Since the coup d’état, France provided the Algerian government with political, military, diplomatic, and financial support.

*The French media have been supporting for the past six years the Algerian dictatorial regime by inviting only the French and the Algerian “eradicators” to speak about the Algerian crisis and to address the French and the international public opinion more specifically through television and radio, without giving any chance to the reconciliators to express their views, even if they represent the overwhelming majority of the Algerian people. Two examples in this regard;

- concerning the collective massacres, the French media accuses only the Islamists and defends the military regime to justify the civil war;

- while the economic and the social situation has been worsening and becoming catastrophic since 1992, you can find only French politicians, personnalities, and journalists talking about “economic progress” in Algeria.

*The Algerian military secret services, at its highest level, are assisted by a hundred of French officers whose activities are coordinated by Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Louis Chanas. This is the first time this kind of event has happened since independence of Algeria in 1962.

*France has been always opposed to any peaceful initiative between Algerians to put an end to bloodshed. More recently France was against the call for an international inquiry commission to investigate into collective massacres.

That is why the French Government is pouring heavy military assistance and very sophisticated arms into Algeria, supporting their partners in the Algerian Army to fight against the Islamists and to “eradiate” Islamism from Algeria. In fact, the present regime, supported by France, is fighting against the Algerian people for its survival and for the francophonie that has become for several years a new ideology in France, to reconquer lost colonies. Since 1992, the military regime sought relentlessly to attack Islam, and its outward manifestations, for example, the firing of female state employees wearing the scarf and male employees sporting beards or practising prayer. Things went even further than this. Mosques were searched, soldiers were even seen trampling the Koran underfoot, many mosques were ordered to be demolished. Such hateful and detestable practices are completely foreign to the traditions and customs of Algerians.

Most Algerians today have the impression that what is happening in Algeria is the continuation of the National Liberation War. Everybody in Algeria knows that the putscist generals constitute the extension of France in their country. France has many objectives toward Algeria. Politically and culturally, France’s dream is to bring Algeria back under its influence, to be a member of the francophonie club. Francophonie has become an ideology, the new substitute for French colonialism. France is trying to strengthen its political, economic, and military relations with Algeria (with the present regime, not with the Algerian people) under the cover of the French culture. The French authorities declare themselves tutelar authority on Algeria by constantly saying that they will never accept an Islamic Government, even if the Algerian people decide democratically to do so. Their pretentious arguments to justify their intervention in our domestic affairs on any occasion is just inadmissible. They claim that historical links allow them to be so close to Algeria. But, history teaches us that military, political, economic, and cultural repression undertaken by French colonialism for 132 years was bloody, ferocious, and inhuman, and followed by a savage war against the Algerian people which lasted almost eight years (1954-1962). Such a colonial mentality can never succeed politically at the dawn of the 21st century.

Economically, France considers Algeria as a captive market. It is not quite true. Algeria succeeded in diversifying its foreign trade in the 1970’s and 1980’s, where France came in the second position with 17% of Algerian imports. But in the 1990’s, France occupies first place, with 34% of its imports.

Algeria suffers substantial losses through certain repetitive and juicy commercial operations. This is due to the existence of French networks of interest in the Algerian Administration and alongside certain Algerian economic actors which act behind the scenes. Let me cite two examples to illustrate this.

The massive importation of industrial and food products from France over the last six years has carried with it an extra cost which may amount to, or even exceed 40%. The extra cost is the result of the combination of a price higher than that of the world market (absence of competition, corruption etc.) and of the very high financial conditions attached to the commercial credits granted to this end.

Secondly, Algeria covers almost all it pharmaceutical needs by importing from France, at prices much higher than those of the world market, medicines which are often past their sell-by date. There were always, in a cyclical fashion, hushed-up scandals in this domain over the last ten years. The loss suffered by Algeria was double. First, extremely large quantities of medicines were obsolete or had to be destroyed; second, the price paid by Algeria is very high. In this context, the Algerian media reported in August 1996 that the ministry of Health cancelled a contract with a French firm because the prices of the imported medicines were 65% higher compared not with international market but with the current prices offered by the same French company.

One can therefore better understand why certain milieu in Algeria and in France are against democracy, transparency, and openness in Algeria. For the advent of democracy, and regular changes of government which would follow from it, and the emergence of new, patriotic, honest and competent leaders, would make it possible to put an end to unjustified excess prices and to illegitimate privileges which are to the detriment of the general interest. The French parties, whatever their political affiliations now have the same position toward Algeria as they did during the first three years of the National Liberation War.

So, as Algerians, we are asking for a better understanding of the real and profound origins of Algeria’s multiple crisis. The Algerian crisis can be solved only by the Algerians themselves. It is first an Algero-Algerian problem. That is why the Algerians are eager to see France taking its hands off their country.


Since 1995, the regime has realised its internal and external isolation. In order to survive and gain time, the Algerian government, in the absence of legitimacy, has been trying to improve its political and economic image by mobilising important means for this purpose on one hand and continues to pursue its policy of violence to terrorize the Algerian people. That is why the government tried to start a new policy by returning to a simulacrum of democracy to improve its image. The presidential elections organised in November 1995, the legislative and the local elections which took place respectively in June and October 1997 aim mainly to improve the credibility of the regime abroad, particularly towards the western countries.

After the presidential elections, the government’s strategy consisted of organising parliamentary elections for mid-1997. In order to do this, it has started a pretence of dialogue between the Presidency of the Republic and political parties as well as various organisations of a similar nature on the memorandum drawn up by the Presidency with a view to amending the Constitution and the laws relating to elections and political parties.

In spite of the reservations and opposition expressed by the chief representative political parties on the subject of constitutional reform, and in spite of the exclusion of the FIS from these consultations, the government has issued a time-table for the adoption of these constitutional and legislative changes without any national consensus. Far from settling anything, this dictatorial way of proceeding can only complicate the political crisis which has already lasted for more than six years.

These amendments made the Parliament powerless. The national and the local elections which took place respectively in June and October 1997 were fraudulent.

No one could believe that a party formed three months only before the parlementary elections by General Zeroual, a rather impopular figure to say the least, could garner a relative majority.

Official statistics claimed that 65.5% of those eligible went to vote, whereas experts estimate it was much less than 50% and in the capital, Algiers, not the official 43% but rather only 17%.

The fraud was organised in quite a straightforward fashion. The Senate, created by the amanded Constitution of November 1996, is compouned of 144 members. 48 of them (i.e. the 1/3 of the Senate) are appointed by President Zeroual and 96 representing the 2/3, are elected in local elections. The RND, the presidential party got 80 seats out of 96 in these fraudulent elections. So, President Zeroual controls the Senate with a majority of 128 representing 90% of it, even he needs only 25% of the Senators according the amended Constitution to block any Bill adopted by the National Assembly (directly elected by the Algerian people).

The presidential elections organised in 1995, the national and the local elections held in 1997 did not bring any change. General Zeroual became President Zeroual. Ait Quyahia, Prime Minister before the national elections has been maintained in his functions. Ben Salah, President of the previous appointed Parliament became President of the “elected” National Assembly. There will be no change. Not only was there a massive fraud by stuffing ballot boxes by government officials, but mainly because the overwhelming majority of the Algerian people do not trust the regime.

The lack of freedom of speech and the manipulation of information contributed to spread confusion and to make the Algerian crisis more opaque. This opaqueness is imposed and maintained by the junta.

We must not forget that, since 1992, Algeria has had three heads of state and five prime ministers, and that many ministers are dismissed after only a few months in office, whereas the main military leaders responsible for repression (who are to be found in the highest echelons of the military hierarchy) are still there. The toll has certainly been heavy since more than 120,000 innocent Algerians have been killed since that time.

Actually, insecurity became a deliberate policy for the regime. In other words, the insecurity has being fed by the regime itself to justify its existence.


For more than six years the people of Algeria have been subject to terror, hunger, injustice, humiliation, arbitrary arrests and summary executions. The violation of human rights by the military regime, as well as the violation of individual and collective freedom, has become the tragic daily reality suffered by Algerians since 1992.

The repressive practices of the regime are just inadmissible when for example napalm (which is internatinnally banned) is used against innocent people in the montains near Texana (Jljel), Chrea (Blida), Ain Defla, Sidi Ali Bounab (Kabilya), and Ouarsenis (South west of Algiers) where during each attack hundreds of innocent peasants are killed. The carnage and destruction of property in these rural areas and in many other places incited each time thousands to flee to other localities considered safer. The depopulation of many regions raised concerns about how displaced families will cope with their basic needs such as housing, food, etc., in one word, how they will survive without any material or financial means.

There is a strong evidence of violations of human rights by the Algerian Government. Many inquiries, testimonies, and reports made by Non Governmental Organisations and by foreign journalists prove the massive violations of human rights such as torture (use of blowtorches, electricity, etc.), kidnappings, sequestrations, extra-judicial executions, systematic rape of girls and women, massive massacres of inncent and poor villagers and peasants. On the other hand, how one can admit killing of political detainees by police and gendarmes as it has been done at Serkadji in Algiers or at Berrouaghia where more than 200 and 100 deteanees were respectively killed under the pretext of suppresing a mutiny.

It is quite clear that violence is wanted and maintained by the junta through special repressive units such as Ninja or death squads but also through both militias and the GIA, infiltrated and manipulated by the secret military services.


Actually, the military regime has been organising the collective massacres for years in order to “terrorise the Islamists” as it has been publicly stated by Prime Ministers such as Redha Malek of Mokdad Sifi and Ministers of Interior such as Salim Saadi or Cherif Meziane in 1993 and 1994. Since 1994 the militias, armed by the government, have been used to force citizens to take up arms in the areas of political support for the FIS. If the targeted citizens refuse to join the militias, they are therefore attaked and killed with their families.

That is why, the regime has armed 200,000 Algerians since 1994 (compared to 160,000 which compound the National Army) to maintain a certain level of violence. The victims of the collective massacres organised by these militia have always been Islamists or people who voted for FIS in 1990 and 1991. By attributing such horrible massacres to the Islamists, the military regime try to discredit Islam and the Islamists in order to get more support from the West. If the regime wants to guarantee security, it can and it will. As if did to protect the hydrocabon areas and installations in the South and in the North of the country. But unfortunately, the bloodshed and the cutthroat syndrome became a deliberate policy.

The violence has escalated in dimensions and brutality over the past three years. In 1996 and 1997, after each statement made by Gen. Zeroual or his government boasting that they have “eradicated” the terrorists, a new wave of collective massacres took place. Such massive killings have been undertaking by militias, transported in lorries and disguised as Islamists. Their job consists of terrorising the families of Islamists or suspected Islamists.

There is a further aspect of the geography of the massacres. Over the past four years, the systematic campaign of collective killings of innocent Algerian citizens have been concentrated in the Mitidja plain, near the capital, mainly in Blida, Boufarik, Medea, Bouira, Ain Defla, and Chief. Since 1997, the collective massacres have been taking place in M’sila and Batna in the East of Algeria, in Djelfa, in the South and in Tlemcen, Tiaret, and Relizane in the West. In the province of Relizane alone, credible sources announced in January 1998 that more than 900 innocent villagers have been killed in the same night, compared to 400 which was the figure given by the Algerian press according to military sources and 78 announced by the government.

It is quite clear that such massive massacres have been executed by militia set up by the junta since 1994. It is worth to recall some facts:

1) Massive massacres take place in poor areas only: in rural zones, villages, and urban districts where people voted for FIS.

2) All the massive killings which took place in different areas surrounding Algiers, the capital such as Bentalha, Rais, Beni Messous etc. are very near to military barracks. The killers came and withdrew in lorries and the massacres lasted 4 or 5 hours without any trouble despite the alert given by the attacked population.

3) President Zeroul himself recognised, in a written speech publicly delivered during his visit to Medea in February 1998, the existence of massacres undertaken by berberist militias against innocent civilians on ethnic or religious basis.

4) Ahmed Djeddaí, the first Secretary of FFS (Ait Ahmed’s Party), stated in his speech to his Party Conference early March 1998 that the French thinker Bernard-Henri Levy and his colleague Herzog told him the following during their last visit to Algeria:

“The victims of the massacres organised at Bentalha, Rais, and Beni Messous deserved to be killed because they voted for FIS in 1991”. Such a thinking and a behaviour show obviously that the French want the pursuit of the civil war and want the eradication of Islamists and Islam from Algeria. Indeed, Bernard-Henri Levy, André Gluckman, Jack Lang and many others contributed for a long time to demonise Islam and Islamists and to justify the Algerian regime’s violations of human rights by manipulating facts and events and by spreading a warlike propaganda.

The fact that these French intellectuals and politicians reject the principle of setting up an international enquiry commission is abominable because it allows the same criminals to continue slaughtering women and children with impunity. Furthermore, they defend the regime by denying the responsability of the junta in these massacres. They are satisfied with “the incompetence of the Army and its incapacity of protecting the whole population” as they said.

5) The respect for human rights and law are necessary to stop violence. This can be done by suing killers, by delimitating the resposabilities of the armed groups which perpetrated massacres, and by putting and end to the impunity. But, the criminals, transported in lorries and acting near military barracks, were never arrested nor a fortiori put on trial.

On the contrary, Algerian politicians or personnalities who call for peace, for a return to the democratic process, and for respect of human rights are considered as traitors by the government.

All these facts and many others show that violence is a deliberate policy of the junta.


The following facts explain the infiltration of GIA and its manipulation by the military secret services:

1) Since Septembre 1993 the GIA, supported by the secret services started attacking foreigners, journalists, and intellectuals. It has been done to demonise the Islamists and to get more support from France and more generally from the West in order to strengthen the power of the junta. We have proofs showing that the kidnapping of the French diplomats, the killing of other French such as those attacked at Benaknoun or the seven monks (very popular in Islamic circles), the assassination of intellectuals like Prof. Bousabsi, Dr. Boukhabza etc., the murder of journalists such as Tahar Djaout, Abada, Harirache, and many others have been decided by the military intelligence services.

2) Since 1994, the GIA targeted the AIS (the army of FIS) instead of attacking military objectives, responsible for the coup d’état, for the cancellation of the national election won by FIS, and for stopping the democratic process.

3) In 1994 and 1995, many companies (subdivisions of battalion) fled their military barracks with their munitions and joined the armed Islamists in the mountains near Ain Oussara, Tablat, and Larbaa. All of them were killed by the GIA. But, when a large number of military who fled their units in the mountainous region of Ain Defla in April 1995, they were severely chased by the Army (infantry, artillery, and aviation all combined in the same attack) using various kinds of weapons including napalm which is internationally forbiden. Military sources said then that more than 2000 “terrorists” have been killed. This story has two aspects:

Firstly, when GIA does not exist it is the regular Army which does the dirty job chasing the young military who fled their units. Second, the victims are in fact civilians living there. Those innocent people are killed because they are suspected of providing assistance and help to the Islamists and because the Army could not reach the rebels.

4) Cheikh Mohammed Said and Redjame, two distinguished leaders of FIS joined GIA along with many of their supporters in May 1994. All of them (around 150 people) have had their throats cut afterwards by GIA.

5) The Zouabri case is striking. He is presented by the official sources as the leader of GIA since 1996 and as an elusive hero. His death has been announced many times by the Army and contradicted on the ground. In fact, Zouabri is nothing except an agent of the military secret services. He has been sentenced to death in 1994 by his own brother, a member of AIS.

6) The different bombings of Paris underground in 1995 attributed to GIA were actually schemed by the Algerian military intelligence services. Two proofs in this regard:

* I was told by a French personnality that President Chirac sent a message to President Zeroual after the Algerian presidential elections saying the following: “We will never accept that the Algerian secret services organise henceforth any bombings in France”. One can notice that since the French warning, there was no more bombings in France.

* Ali Touchent, alias Tarek, has always been presented by the French Police and media as the chief of GIA responsible for all bombings in France. But, Touchent went back to Algeria afterwards. He was living in Algiers since 1995. Once the French Authorities dealt with this matter and decided to go ahead with the trial, then he was killed by the Algerian secret services in Algiers near the hotel “El Emir” in May 1997. But, his death has been released by Algiers in December 1997 only during the GIA trial in Paris, when his case has been mentioned by the French press. He has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the Tribunal of Paris in January 1998 though his death has been reported to the French earlier by the Algerian Authorities. This sentence has been decided to maintain confusion and to manipulate information about the current situation in Algeria.

7) France and many other Western countries have known for a long time that the GIA is infiltrated and manipulated by the Algerian military secret services. Let us see some examples:

* Many French media such as “France International Radio” or newspapers like “Le Monde”, “Libération”, “L’Express” and others mentioned since February 1995 the infiltration of GIA by the Algerian secret services.

* Mr. Francois Gèze and Prof. Pierre Vidal-Naquet, respectively Director General of La Découverte (a publishing house) and Historian and Director of Studies at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, wrote an article published by “Le Monde” on 5 March 1998 where they stated: “All the Western intelligence services are convinced that GIA are highly infiltrated by the military secret services agents in order to discredit Islamists and to maintain a climate of terror to prevent any revolt.”

* “Paris-Match ” reported in its issue dated 9 October 1997 that the British secret services “were surprised ” to discover that telephonic conversations, between the GIA in Algeria and the Egyptian “cheikh” Hamza, acting on their behalf in Great Britain and in charge of their publication “Al-Ansar”, were made from military barracks.

The infiltrated GIA were also involved in some massive massacres.

By following such a collective assassination policy through militias and manipulated GIA, the junta want to have the Algerian people accept its political line based on terror, exclusion, mediocracy, fraud and corruption. On the other hand, this policy is deliberate because the Algerian economy has been based on the state violence since 1992.


The economic situation has deteriorated seriously since the 1992 coup d’état. The disastrous results of management practised during the period 1992 - 1997 are eloquent testimony of this:

1) The Gross Domestic Production (GDP) per head of population has fallen dramatically, from $2,500 annually in 1989-90 to $1376 only in 1997 (45% of its level in 1990).

Total GDP has fallen from $50.52 billion in 1993 to $43.78 billion in 1996 and $45 billion in 1997.

2) The continual marginalisation of agriculture has resulted in a sustained growth in food imports. In 1996, 90% of needed agro-food products were met by imports and cost $3 billion.

3) In 1996 the public and private industrial sector, excluding hydrocarbons, (i.e. oil and gas) is operating at less than 20% of total capacity. The industrial production growth rate has always been negative: - 6% in 1992, - 15% in 1993, - 10% in 1994, - 9% in 1995. In the first six months of 1996 industrial production has reached only 2% of the targets laid down, according to official Algerian sources.

4) Activity in the building and construction sector has fallen considerably. Only about 40,000 homes were built in 1994 and 50,000 in 1995, compared with 130,000 in 1984, resulting in an explosive housing crisis.

5) The rate in investment, (ratio between investment and GDP), has never been so low in the last thirty years. A large proportion of the country’s available financial resources has been used to increase imports of consumer goods and arms. In fact, imports of foodstuffs and industrial consumer goods alone reached 49% of total imports in 1994 - something not seen since 1962. Military expenditure increased very rapidly during the last years. It rose by 45% in 1994 and by 144% in 1995 and reached $1.8 billion in 1996. In 1998, it has been increased by 100%. All of this is to the detriment of productive investment. These military expenditure have been increasing to spread terror while poverty is expanding throughout the country and while the economic crisis is deepening.

6) Unemployment, constantly increasing, exceeded 30% in 1997 and even reached 40% in many regions of the country. Unemployment affects young people in particular. The fact is that young Algerians, between the ages of 16 and 29, represent 83% of the unemployed, while making up only 27% of the total population. The unemployment figure rose from 1,300,000 in 1992 to more than 2,500,000 in 1996, i.e. a growth of 92% in four years.

The employment situation will get worse with more than 400,000 redundancies brought about by the policy of privatising public enterprises in accordance with the IMF programme. This will bring the number of unemployed up to 3,000,000. Since the opportunities for job creation are very poor in the light of the tendency towards lower rates of investment, unemployment will increase even more and will reach dramatic levels in the coming years by an average of 260,000 new unemployed per year. Which means that the number of unemployed will reach 4.5 million by 2002.

7) Galloping inflation as a result of the increased prices of imported goods, (brought about by the Dinar’s devaluation), and by increased production costs, exceeded 40% in 1994 and was around 32% in 1995, levels never seen since Independence. The situation is even more serious when one realises that the Algerian consumer used to spend around 40% of his budget on food products in the 1980’s. The cost of food has risen at an average annual rate of more than 90%, the last years (200% for coffee, 120% for bread, 110% for milk, 93% for sugar, etc.). The resulting drop in purchasing power has led to a growth of poverty. Since the whole salary is unable to cover the basic needs for the average household, let alone the unemployed.

To this must unfortunately be added the growth in corruption (estimated at S2 billion a year).

Taken together, these factors have further weakened the authority of the state and isolated the government within the country.

External debt jumped from $26 billion in 1992 to $38 billion in 1997 and $43 billion if military debt is included.

External debt is a burden which, in the context of contemporary Algeria, will further deepen the recession over the coming years, will cause further ruination to the country’s economy, and will drive the country into desolation and despair.


The social crisis has been aggravated since 1990 by the increase in social tensions, which have been fuelled in particular by such factors as inflation and unjust distribution of income and wealth. This has been accompanied by the aggravation of the gap between a wealthy minority, (whose fortunes have often been illicitly acquired), and a majority floundering in unemployment, poverty and destitution. The middle class, which was very significant until 1986-87 and was the guarantee of social cohesion, began to be eroded and vanished altogether through its impoverishment in 1994-95.

Until the 1990’s, Algeria had never previously experienced this phenomenon of the creation of millionaires and a general increase in fortunes in a very short period of time and by every kind of illegal scheming, but with complete impunity.


The moral crisis contributed also to erode social cohesion. Corruption became institutionalised at the top level. It is estimated at $2 billion a year and affects all Algerian imports. So corruption, embezzlement, illicit enrichment, bureaucratic red tape, (often leading to corrupt practices), illegitimate favours, (in defiance of law and justice), nepotism, the accumulation of wealth (not by through honest efforts but by idle organised by a minority), as well as other kinds of injustice, all combined to weaken social cohesion and solidarity and to generate, first popular indifference and apathy, then popular hostility towards the authorities whom ordinary people held responsible for the crisis of confidence between rulers and ruled. This has is the explanation for the crisis of confidence between rulers and ruled. This has also increased the desire for a change of government since the restoration of a multi-party system.

This also explains the popularity of the chief opposition parties, such as the FIS, which ever since its foundation has not only denounced these unnatural conditions, but has undertaken to normalise and give a moral direction to the country’s economic and social situation, through open management of public affairs to the benefit of the general interest, if it comes to power through the exercise of democracy.


No programme of economic revival, or structural adjustment, (IMF policy), or purely economic reforms, can be successful at a time when insecurity is widespread, when violence increases on all sides, when the deterioration in the economic and social situation has reached crisis point, and when, above everything, there is a growth in popular hostility towards a corrupt and illegal government, which within the country is ultimately dependent upon force, and which externally relies on the political, diplomatic and financial support of France and some other powers.

Since 1992, the people of Algeria have been subjected to terror and pauperisation. The present situation is abnormal and unnatural. This is why a return to democratic process cannot be avoided to put an end to the bloodshed.

In this context, Algerians do not understand the silence in Europe about developments in Algeria over the past six years. As Algeria is only two hours flight away from major European capitals and in despite tens of thousands of innocent people can be killed without any notice being taken. This is something nobody in Algeria can understand. Algerians are wondering if they are considered as subhumans.

In my opinion, the very least the European countries or/and the European Union can do, is to take a public position on three fronts: Firstly, condemn the present regime’s Human Rights policy and specifically, the lack of freedom of speech and political expression. Secondly, they have the appropriate means to put an embago on arms sales to Algeria and to impose to the Algerian regime an International enquiry commission to investigate the massacres which have been taking place for six years. Thirdly, they can encourage a return for the democratic process in Algeria, trough genuine dialogue between the regime and all other representative political parties without any exclusion whatsoever.

This dialogue is necessary to prepare for a democratic transition, to end the bloodshed, and to prepare the future in secure conditions. Without this, the situation will worsen, and Algeria will sink further into destruction and ruin.

Only dialogue, consultation, national reconciliation, and tolerance, all of which are favoured by the overwhelming majority of Algerians can get Algeria our of the catastrophic impasse into which it had been led.

The national dialogue, without excluding any political party, should create conditions for the return to the democratic process. Discussion with responsibility, openness, and serenity will facilitate an agreement on political agenda by fixing a date - the earliest possible - for presidential and legislative elections, by forming a new government to manage the period of transition until the elections, and by accepting the verdict of the people and the principle of regular change of power by the path of democracy and legality.

A transitional government, granted effective power and composed of representative political forces, will oversee the organisation of free and open elections with the least possible delay. The verdict of the people must be respected by everybody.

The period of transition will of necessity be limited in time. Its length, as well as the conditions under which institutions function will be determined by negotiations between the regime and representative political parties, without any of them being excluded.

The aim of this period of transition is to prepare for a return to popular sovereignty. This period will be characterised in particular by:

-an end to bloodshed;

-the disarmament of all militia;

-the lifting of the state of emergency;

-the release of all political detainees;

-the annulment of all special regulations, repressive in character;

-an end to repressive practices (kidnapping, arbitrary arrests, torture, summary executions);

-the effective practice of freedom of speech, including access to all the media without discrimination;

-the freedom of political parties to organise public meetings.

The implementation of these measures will contribute to the creation of conditions favourable to the reestablishment of peace within the country and national reconciliation.

The advent of democracy, the change in nature of the present political regime, the emergence of newly elected office-holders of competence and integrity and who are mindful of the general interest, will constitute many serious advantages when it comes to returning to national harmony, reconstruction of the country, and restoring order to the economy and getting it off the ground again.

The democratic alternative is the best guarantee to restore confidence in institutions and in elected office-holders, and to recover social cohesion and political stability.

Under these circumstances Algeria can really get out of its present crisis , because the newly and democratically elected leaders will be trusted by the people and will be able to proceed with the reforms necessary to rescue Algeria from the present ruinous impasse.

Under these circumstances, the implementation of a programme of economic reforms and a strategy of economic and social development, both Islamic and modern in inspiration, will restore the economy to a state of normality, and introduce a moral element into it, and bring the economic crisis under control.

Thus the resolution of Algeria’s crisis by political means and by a return to democracy has much to offer, because it enables Algeria to set out along a new path. If this happens, and looking towards the future, Algeria will be in position to mobilise its resources, to overcome poverty and under-development nation-wide. Moreover, it will be able to move forward to restructuring its external commercial relations of as to profit from international competition and so make substantial savings in currency.

Externally, Algeria will be able to play a constructive role in the rebuilding of the Maghreb.


Algeria’s present crisis is very complex. The immediate causes of the crisis with its many aspects are entangled with the long-term causes and make the present situation very disturbing in all areas. Unfortunately it is the people of Algeria who suffer the disastrous fallout from this crisis.

Over the last six years Algeria has lost too many victims, too much time and too much money, and finds itself today stuck in a bad situation.

Pursuing the present repressive policy will lead Algeria into economic ruin, and towards a social and political explosion.

To overcome the polical crisis, Zeroual’s government is playing the card of economic revival with verbal promises without having the means to implement them in reality. However, the success of any economic programme demands as a preliminary the return of peace within the country and stability. This is only possible with the restoration of the democratic process with the participation of all the political parties, without any exclusions whatsover.

Moreover, everybody knows that without investment there can be no growth. Under the present government there will be no internal investment of any consequence, nor investment from overseas, (except for the oil sector, which has no effect no employment), nor partnership with overseas companies, nor economic take-off. For the past six years, all the economic indicators have been negative.

It is time for reason and wisdom to prevail over violence and hatred. Only the path of real dialogue and national reconciliation without exclusions of any kind can make it possible for peace, democracy, and respect for individual and collective freedoms to return. Only a return to the sovereignty of the people will endow Algeria with legitimate power and honest and able leaders, freely elected by the people. These will then be in a position to draw up a new economic, social and cultural policy, breaking completely with the men and methods which the country has known up to the present, and adoption substantial economic reforms and appropriate organisational measures in order to promote social justice, well-being, stability, social peace and harmony.

Engaged upon such a peaceful and democratic path, Algeria can be saved and built up again in peace, order, fraternity and solidarity. Moreover, it will provide a factor of stability in the Maghreb and the Mediterranean region.