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Algeria: The Provisional Government of Kabylia – A Threat to National Unity?

On June 1st, the announcement of the creation of a provisional government of Kabylia (GPK) [fr] by the Kabyle singer Ferhat Mehenni in Paris, has caused a great deal of controversy in Algeria. While some see the GPK as merely a part of the struggle for the autonomy of Kabylia that began 9 years ago called the Movement for Autonomy of Kabylia (MAK), others believe that the GPK is a threat to the territorial unity of Algeria. Bloggers wonder what are the objectives and implications of this new development for the country.

Blogger Nado writes [fr]:

Ferhat Mehenni veut seulement provoquer un déclic sachant très bien que l’unité du pays est une constante et que le peuple algérien n’en est pas prêt à sacrifier

Ferhat Mehenni only wants to provoke a spark knowing full well that national unity is not negotiable and that the Algerian people are not willing to compromise it.

Agreeing with this sentiment, Mohand argues in the comment section of a blog post about this issue [fr]:

Les Kabyles, s’ils voulaient avoir leur autonomie, l’auraient obtenue du temps de la colonisation ! C’est une dérision de vouloir aujourd’hui, après qu’ils aient payé un prix fort pour leur liberté et combattu pour revendiquer pour toute l’Aglérie (…) et de les faire cantonner dans les montagnes…

If the Kabyles wanted to have their autonomy, they could have obtained it during colonial time ! It is a mockery to affirm that you want it today after they paid a heavy price to gain their freedom and fought to reclaim all of Algeria (…) to now be restricted to the mountainous region…

In the same forum, Sifax expressed a different point of view [fr]:

Les jeunes kabyles sont très ravis d’avoir enfin une existence politique et sociale à part entière dans l’ordre mondial, portée courageusement et fièrement par le MAK et le GPK

The young Kabyles are very pleased to finally have a meaningful political and social presence globally that is carried on bravely and proudly by the MAK and GPK.

Meanwhile, Makhlouf. B questions the composition of the GPK.

Nous constatons que tous les membres du GPK sont issus des connaissances personnelles de Ferhat Mehenni. Soit d’anciens camarades de parti, des transfuges, soit des militants du MAK (…) Un autre fait criard: tous les membres de l’équipe «gouvernementale» sont issus de l’émigration, aucune place n’ayant été laissée aux militants de ce mouvement activant en Kabylie, en Algérie.

We can see that all the members of the GPK are personal acquaintances of Ferhat Mehenni, either old party comrades, or ex-members or activists of the MAK (…) Another egregious fact: all team members of this “government” come from the diaspora, there is no room left for activists based in Kabylia, Algeria.

A MAK activist blogging at Kabylie Autonomie, denounces the treatment of the announcement of the creation of GPK by the Algerian press  [fr]:

El Watan, le journal des services (tout comme l'ensemble de la presse privée dite “indépendante”) a réservé un traitement des plus misérables à la proclamation du GPK. (…) Ce journal est allé même jusqu'à reprocher la proclamation du GPK à partir de Paris alors que les responsables du même journal s'y ont établis avec leur progénitures. En fait, El Watan n'a même pas rappelé qu'un mandat d'amener est lancé contre le vieil opposant Ferhat Mehenni

El Watan newspaper services (like all of the “independent” press) has given a terrible treatment to the proclamation of the GPK (…) The newspaper went so far as to denigrate the fact that the proclamation of GPK was made in Paris, while the heads of the newspaper are themselves also established there with their children. In fact, El Watan did not even mention that a warrant was issued against old Ferhat Mehenni.

However, others hypothesize that this maneuver could be part of a game of smokes and mirrors. Suspecting the hand of the Algerian government behind the creation of the GPK, a journalist blogged the following commentary [fr]:

Il semble que les laboratoires de la police politique préparent un nouveau scénario pour notre chère Kabylie après l’avoir clochardisée et fortement militarisée avec l’aide très précieuse de certains aventuriers politiques de la région

after dragging our dear Kabylia to the status of beggar and highly militarizing it with the precious help of some adventurous politicians of the region, It seems that the laboratories of the political police are again preparing a new scenario for the region

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