In Algeria, Rachid Nekkaz renounces politics – Jeune Afrique

Businessman and politician Rachid Nekkaz, who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence, hangs up. At the age of 51, he decided to stop politics and he explains this on his Facebook page, in a letter written and delivered to his family from his cell phone. Worn out by prison, the sulfurous activist links his decision to the “surprise cancellation” of an 18-month presidential pardon he had been promised. Without addressing the reasons, he writes that he resigned himself “by the force of circumstances to interrupt the policy” and informed the Head of State Abdelmadjid Tebboune of this decision on December 10, 2022 to assure him of his redemption.

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He assures us that he now intends to “dedicate himself exclusively to resolving his health problems (prostate, hearing and breathing), to writing and to his family, which he selfishly sacrificed and abandoned in the United States for 10 years. seen since then three years, absorbed as he was by the idea of ​​humbly contributing to the construction of a democratic state in the country of his late parents. »

Hardening of the authorities

On July 3, the Court of Appeal sentenced him to 5 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 dinars – against one year of imprisonment pronounced in the first instance – for “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “calling for a boycott of the polls”. during the aborted presidential elections of April 2019. This testifies to a hardening of the authorities’ position towards this Franco-Algerian accustomed to coups. His judicial “career” began on December 4, 2019, when he was arrested for “attack on national unity”, “incitement to carry weapons” and “agglomeration and physical aggression” after the release of a video on social networks, in the which called on Algerians to attack parliamentarians who were then preparing to pass the hydrocarbons law. He was then released, in February 2021, as part of a wave of presidential pardons decided to mark Hirak’s second birthday.

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During his stay of more than a year in prison, he even spoke about him by offering financial aid to the State so that all the inmates of the Koléa prison where he was, “can eat meat or chicken twice a week, and a dessert a day “, he explains in a request addressed to the Minister of Justice.

presidential candidate

Iconoclastic and provocative, Rachid Nekkaz, who graduated in philosophy and history from the Sorbonne and who made his fortune in France in start-ups and real estate, is particularly well known for having been a presidential candidate twice in Algeria (in 2014 and in 2019). Rejected in 2014 for lack of sufficient sponsorship, it stayed in the country that traveled from end to end to denounce the system in place, gate for his ambition to one day become president. And regularly recalling his career as a political troublemaker in France, where he claimed to have paid more than 1,169 fines imposed on Muslim women for wearing a full veil in public space. “I am very proud, as an Algerian, to teach a lesson in democracy and respect for individual freedoms to human rights countries,” he said.

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During the 2019 election, his process was rejected on the grounds that he had French nationality until 2013. However, Algerian law provides that a candidate for an election must never have another nationality, as well as must prove that he has resided in Algeria for at least ten years. To get around the ineligibility, Rachid Nekkaz then imagined a grotesque subterfuge: a few hours before the deadline for submitting the application, it was his paternal cousin – also called Rachid Nekkaz! -, a professional mechanic, who takes his place.

impaired popularity

In the face of the astonishment of public opinion, Nekkaz explains his strategy and states: “If my cousin is elected, we will change the Constitution in a week, and we will create the position of vice president that I will occupy. My cousin will resign after that and I will automatically assume the role of president.” This maneuver backfired and hurt his popularity gained after his opposition to Bouteflika’s fifth term.

His image does not improve when he tries, in February 2019, to film the Swiss hospital room where, according to the Algerian authorities, the former president is located, who they say is dead. “I decided to come here to Geneva in front of the hospital where the president and Algerian candidate is hospitalized while the whole world, and Algeria as a whole, knows that he is no longer of this world”, justifies Rachid Nekkaz. before being arrested by the Swiss police, who will place him in custody for 24 hours.

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