The successful revolt in Tunisia under the autocratic regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who had ruled for 23 years inspired confidence in Egyptians. The end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year-rule, the issue of long imposed emergency laws in North Africa have been questioned as Algerians demand a more democratic government. Unemployment and a closed press amongst other issues have been brought to the fore.
After weeks of relentless protests by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, Mubarak surrendered his powers. The remainder of autocratic states across North Africa and the Middle East now fear the possibility of change.
The revolution sweeping autocratic states is indeed not over as potentials for uprising against dictators remain high.
In Libya there is talk of an uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi who is in his 39th year in power. The Libyan leader who is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world has retained absolute, authoritarian control and many believe Libya might be next to bringing his reign to an end.
A Libyan writer and political commentator Jamal al-Hajji, a former prisoner of conscience, has been arrested for calling for peaceful protests in the country, Amnesty International revealed.
Libya has always curbed dissent ruthlessly and the media remains under strict government control.The country has a law forbidding group activity based on a political ideology opposed to Col Gaddafi’s revolution.
Gaddafi’s regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death, Human Rights Watch says. Torture and disappearances have also been reported. Time will tell what happens between the people of Libya and Gaddafi’s autocratic regime.
According to Anthony Skinner of political risk consultancy Maplecroft: “[The successful revolution inEgypt] has broken a psychological barrier not just for North Africa but across the Middle East. I think you could see some contamination in terms of protests; Morocco, perhaps Jordan, Yemen.”
In Yemen, already, thousands of people have taken to the streets. Some chanted: “Yesterday Tunisia, today Egypt, and tomorrow Yemenis will break their chains.” These chants presage the potentials of oppressed populations in north Africa and the Middle East to rise up for change.
In Algiers, the capital city of Algeria, thousands of police in riot gear were braced for action to stop a planned demonstration on Saturday. Officials have banned the opposition march, setting the stage for possible clashes.
Like Egypt, Algeria is under emergency rule, with protests officially banned. Despite this There is a protest planned for February 19th, the 19th anniversary of the institution of emergency rule.
Bahrain and Iran
In the oil-rich Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, officials were handing out cash worth over $2,500 to every family, to appease them ahead of protests opposition groups plan for Monday.
Iran’s Islamist rulers are reported to be “scared” of pro-democracy activists who have said they may renew the street protests that rocked Tehran in 2009.
The latest revolution victory by Egyptians has been applauded by world leaders. US President Barack Obama leading other world leaders in commending Mubarak for respecting the wishes of the people said the people of Egypt had spoken after history moved at a “blinding pace,” and called on the now-ruling military to ensure a transition towards “genuine democracy.”
However, it remains to be seen how the army will create democracy for the first time in a nation that traces its history back 7,000 years. As Egyptians celebrate some experts offered notes of caution over how far the armed forces under Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s veteran defense minister, were ready to permit democracy.
The peaceful departure of Mubarak as Egypt’s president marked “a beginning” holding the promise of greater democracy for the world’s most populous Arab nation. But “There will be difficult days ahead.”
The call for change is happening remarkably fast in northern Africa and the Middle East, with protests against governments happening in Tunisia, Egypt, it is only a matter of time before people in Algeria, Libya, Yemen, among others, tired of oppression, poverty, unemployment and lack of certain human rights rise up for change.