Hints of political change on horizon in Algeria
ALGIERS, Algeria — The Arab Spring may finally be en route to Algeria.
With the president in a French hospital recovering from a stroke, the generation of aging politicians and generals that has run Africa’s largest country for a half-century is reaching its end. Adding to the mix, Algeria’s overwhelmingly young population is increasingly vocal in its demands for jobs and housing that its oil-dependent economy isn’t providing.
Algeria has the most powerful and best-equipped military in North Africa and the Sahel and is an important bulwark against terrorist groups linked to al-Qaida. Any further instability in North Africa, where Tunisia, Libya and Egypt are already struggling, could embolden the armed militants.
So far Algeria has been buoyed by high oil prices, and it has spent lavishly to try to buy off the discontent. But critics maintain that short-term approach does not take into account the volatile energy market or of Algerians’ deep-seated need for a new political vision.