Clashes between security forces and conscripts in the Algerian Army

The protesting conscripts belonged to reservist forces assembled by the Algerian military during the Algerian Civil War.
Wednesday 18/07/2018
A file picture shows buildings in the centre of the Algerian capital, Algiers. (AFP)
A file picture shows buildings in the centre of the Algerian capital, Algiers. (AFP)

Thousands of Algerian army recruits began fresh protests over their socio-economic conditions after the government failed to meet demands they raised several months ago. 

In a bid to more forcefully assert their message, protesters attempted to march into the capital Algiers on Tuesday, but were prevented by Algerian security forces who blocked access to the city centre. 

The move led to clashes between protesters and police, with numerous soldiers being injured and taken to nearby hospitals.

Eyewitnesses told The Arab Weekly: “The army conscripts assembled in the early hours of the morning at specific points in the Reghaya, Rwiba, and Casablanca suburbs and began marching using the main road and the highway; but they were surprised to find all access points to the capital blocked off by security forces, effectively preventing them from continuing their march.”

The protesting conscripts belonged to reservist forces assembled by the Algerian military during the Algerian Civil War in the 1990s, also known as the Black Decade, to fight in the government’s war effort against extremist groups. Many now suffer from chronic injuries or disabilities resulting from the conflict. They demand that the government provide them with “a decent life and officially recognise them as a group who fought terrorism." 

The Algerian military command accused some protesters of "refusing to compromise and working to incite and spread confusion among members of the military institution, especially since activists refuse to accept the partial solutions offered and continue to insist on demonstrating and attempting to enter the capital." 

The protest movement is a real thorn in the side of the military command, which aims to project an image of discipline and unity among the troops.

The reservists' protests is the latest of a series of demonstrations that have rocked Algeria’s political scene and over the past few months. 

Resident doctors recently went on strike in the country over low wages and conditions, and continue to decry the government’s refusal to negotiate. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Higher Education had agreed to negotiate with the striking resident doctors once they broke their strike and returned to work. However, two weeks later, the ministries have closed all channels of communication.