Southern Algeria protests cutting electricity subsidies by government
Al-Jazeera – Algerian politicians reversed course last month after voting to cut electricity subsidies – the first price rise in more than a decade.
In December, legislators slashed the price of electricity by 65 percent for those living in the Sahara Desert, while at the same time passing new cost-cutting measures to cope with plummeting energy prices and a rising budget deficit.
The decision came after mass protests across Algeria’s Sahara region last summer, in which thousands of people peacefully rallied against price increases and demanded that cuts in electricity subsidies be reversed.
“For us, it [the electricity bill] jumped from nearly 9,000 dinars [$80] to 24,000 dinars [$220]. Some of my neighbours had to pay almost 50,000 dinars [$450]. We can’t pay that much,” said Fellah Djelloul, a member of the National Coordination for the Protection of the Rights of Unemployed People, a grassroots movement that aims to defend the the rights of unemployed people.
“The hike in electricity prices led us to choose between feeding our children and turning on the air conditioner,” Hacina Zegzeg, who lives in the southern city of Ain Salah, told Al Jazeera.
Spontaneous demonstrations have become part of the daily routine in southern Algeria. The country’s Saharan region, traditionally regarded as a quiet, pro-government area, has recently emerged as the epicentre of public protest.