Algeria: Riots erupt over months-long water shortages

Algeria: Riots erupt over months-long water shortages

Unrest over water shortages has added to a months-long protest movement in Algeria, as the ruling elite scramble to retain control of the country ahead of elections. As speculation mounts as to the possibility of a coming second Arab spring, the country’s regime has its work cut out in maintaining both stability and its own legitimacy.

Violent riots broke out in the Algerian city of Tiaret on June 8th after months of water shortages, forcing residents to queue for access, according to AP.

Social media footage showed masked protesters setting tyres alight and blocking roads with make-shift barricades to protest the water shortages.

The unrest followed a June 2nd Council of Ministers meeting during which President Abdelmadjid Tebboune implored his cabinet to implement “emergency measures” in Tiaret, with several government ministers purportedly sent to ask its population for an apology and to promise that access to drinking water would be restored.

The riots come as Tebboune is expected to run for a second presidential term in Africa’s largest nation, against a backdrop of a months-long protest movement calling for the removal of Algeria’s ruling elite.

READ: Algeria: Louisa Hanoune runs for president

Demonstrators in Algiers on June 7th called for a “free and democratic Algeria” and a “civil state, not a military one,” as reported by Asharq Al-Awsat.

Northern Africa is among the world’s worst-hit nations by climate change, with multi-year drought draining Algerian reservoirs and reducing the rainfall that has historically replenished them.

Algerian authorities are, however, endeavouring to import water from nearby sources.

Cosider, a publicly owned company responsible for water infrastructure, hopes to complete a new network of pipelines to bring groundwater to Tiaret from wells 20 miles (32 km) away, by July 2024. Until then, the firm is trucking cisterns of water into the city, an anonymous official told AP.

They stated that “Tiaret and three surrounding municipalities have suffered from this water shortage for months,” adding that “a calm has returned but the situation remains tense.”

News of the riots has spread widely on social media but has received little coverage from Algerian outlets, many of which rely on state funding.

READ: Amnesty condemns Algeria’s “campaign of repression”

Press freedom in the country has been increasingly curtailed in recent years, including the imprisonment of journalists.

AP / Asharq Al-Awsat


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