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In Algeria, initiatives to reappropriate politics
Protesters in Algiers, July 30, 2019. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 € œWhat is a transition period? "What are the roles of a president? "What is communism? "What is the state of emergency? AT". On the Fahemny Politics Facebook page ("explain politics"), political notions are explained through videos, articles and photos, in Arabic, French, Berber and in derdja, the Algerian dialect. "We wanted to make people aware of the words we heard in speeches. To want to participate, you have to understand what's going on, " explains Maya, 19, a student at the National Polytechnic School of Algiers and co-administrator of the project.

Launched at the end of March, one month after the beginning of the protest movement in Algeria against the fifth term of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and for a change of regime, the page now counts several thousand subscribers. Beyond the explanation of the role of the institutions, the volunteers have foreign experiences, such as the georgian revolution, the French revolutio or the civil rights movement in the United States.

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As the weeks go by, thank-you messages arrive, accompanied by proposals for articles or help with translations. "We've created a community of committed people and we feel part of something. It's a personal development, " Maya explains that she has never been a member of a political party or association. Gaining skills is a way to invest in the life of the country. "Living in a real country means involving everyone", Result © she summarizes.

"Blade background"

The demonstrations have revived the desire to get involved in politics of some Algerians, while the country saw for some years small citizen initiatives develop in sectors considered as less sensitive, like the environment. "There is a bottom slide coming from below"says Smaïl Chertouk, 50, head of an innovation consulting company. This Algerian who lives in France is part of the creators of the mobile application Netlagaw ("we meet", in derdja), posted online in early August.

"We found that what characterized the protest movement is a kind of citizen's watch. People are aware of their belonging to a whole, that they have rights but also a little responsibility in obtaining these rights. So we wanted to help them get together. "he explains. The application allows you to create an event and invite others to participate, from cleaning a beach to creating a business. "We must facilitate access to citizenship. Democracy, that is, " He added.

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To exercise it, to seize it, to appropriate it. This is what a group of doctors who created a collective named Amana has been trying for several weeks. This evening in July, they are fourteen, meeting in a café, to prepare a national meeting. Their goal is "To make a contribution to the development of solid, just and equitable institutions", by making proposals for the health system. Their way of working is democratic: listen to everyone, fight, decide together.

At the meeting, speech is distributed in turn, decisions are taken by a two-thirds majority vote. "We have to better explain who we are. I'm sure the people in the hospital think we're an extension of a union, " stresses a young woman. "We must have a clear political position on the revolution," another participant said. "No, we must focus our work on health, that's where we are legitimate," meet a confrere. "Before we decide, we have to give the floor to members from other regions. It's not Algiers that will change things, " Temper a third.

Public trust

Here, it is the fragilities of the Algerian civil society that expose themselves: the public's reluctance to face any form of organization, the difficulty of finding places to live. unite or the tendency to centralize decisions, while the immensity and diversity of the territory require adapted choices. But these doctors, encouraged by their first small victories, want to try: "We come to dialogue, while there are among us very conservative people and others in the extreme opposite," says Billel, a cardiologist.

Several members of the group have set up a web platform inspired by Decidim, a participatory system born in Barcelona and used in Catalonia during the campaign for the referendum of independence. It allows to have an online support to discuss legal texts and to reach proposals for amendment in the medium term. "We want to impose ourselves as a force of proposition. We know that the health sector suffers from structural problems related to the issue of governance, " Hamza analysis, member of the collective.

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In parallel with her work to bring health professionals together, Amana wants to encourage other sectors to use the same operation and the same platform. Two weeks after the meeting in the cafe, they meet university teachers. Billel, the cardiologist, tries to convince: "We were told that democracy was not for us. We were forbidden to do so, by But there are techniques and tools to put it in place. AT" The audience is a little hectic. "For that, we have time, a teacher. What is needed is a clear political objective. AT" Another teacher expresses her doubts: "Did your initiative have a lot of buy-in? Because we do not manage to mobilize. AT"

Billel explains: "The biggest challenge is to rebuild trust. At home, we stick labels to people who talk about democracy. It must be made clear that this is neither an ideology nor a political party. AT" Ghiles, another doctor, is aware of the challenge: "We took the health sector as a laboratory. If we get there, that means we can make things change beyond that. AT"

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