Wednesday, 21 April 2010

algeria: kabylie plans for autonomy


site officiel du Mouvement pour l’Autonomie de la Kabylie


Autonomist party establishes provisional government and warns about the risk of bloodshed in Kabylie

Ferhat Mehenni, the President of the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), announced on Sunday during a gathering in Paris that his movement had formed a “provisional government”. Its composition will be announced on Tuesday, on the occasion of 30th anniversary of “Tafsut Imazighen”, the Berber springtime. Ferhat Mehenni indeed stated that “30 years of fight have indeed convinced him of the necessity for Kabylie to create its own state.”

The announcement came whereas security forces have been put on high alert ahead of autonomist demonstrations that will take place on Tuesday throughout Kabylie. Berber political parties have indeed called their supporters to gather in the main cities of the region, including in Tizi Ouzou, Bejaïa and Bouira. Ferhat Mehenni warned Algiers about the use of violence and blamed the government for having taken hundreds of people into the region to stage “counter-protests” and break the movement.

This strategy could lead to an outbreak of civil unrest across the region. Mr Mehenni warned that a new bloodshed would prompt the immediate proclamation of an Independent Kabyl State.

From March the 10th to April the 20th 1980, thousands of students took the streets to defend the Berber culture. Authorities violently suppressed the movement, which has been commemorating annually, sometimes prompting extremely harsh answers by the authorities. In 2001, at least 125 people have indeed been killed and thousands of others injured in the crackdown ordered on Berber demonstrators during the “Black spring”, whose anniversary will also be commemorated tomorrow. For weeks, autonomous leaders have therefore stressed the importance of the celebrations for the preservation of the Kabyl identity.

Moreover, it must be noticed that Tuesday protests will take place in an extremely tense context, marked by a deteriorating social situation and by the rise of Islamist terrorism across Algeria and especially in Kabylie. Protests have indeed erupted in recent week to blame security forces for their inability to protect the population and to announce that “more radical actions” would be carried out if nothing was done to curb the threats.

Added to the symbolic strength of the Tafsut Imazighen, Ferhat Mehenni’s statements could therefore contribute to aggregate the wrath and frustrations of the Kabyl people, creating an explosive situation throughout the region.

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