50 years of independence have been good for Algeria. So says President Bouteflika, who opened a year of celebrations with a huge firework display and a visit to the memorial for the martyrs of the independence struggle against France.
Another fireworks spectacular will honour the fallen tonight.
But there are many Algerians who say the state has lost its way, riven with corruption, discrimination against the Kabyle minority, and scarred by its own internal conflict against Islamists in the 1990s that left tens of thousands dead. Many would also like to know where all the money has gone from Algeria’s vast oil and gas resources.
It does not seem to have been invested. 50 years on, only 5% of Algeria’s GNP comes from industrial output. The rest comes from energy. Unemployment stands at 20%, and bureaucracy stifles initiative at every turn.