Classifieds powered by Gulf News

Algerians rally for democracy

Several injured as police break up protest seeking scrapping of draconian law

Policemen restrain protesters
Image Credit: EPA
Policemen restrain protesters during a demonstration in Algiers on Saturday. Democratic opposition party RCD draped aTunisian flag next to the Algerian flag on a balcony of the party headquarters where the march was to begin.
Gulf News

Algiers: Riot police broke up a planned march by hundreds of protesters who want Algeria to scrap a law banning public gatherings. At least 13 people were injured, officials said.

However, opposition leader Said Sadi said 42 people were injured during clashes between police and pro-democracy activists.

Inspired by protests in neighbouring Tunisia, organisers at democratic opposition party RCD draped a Tunisian flag next to the Algerian flag on a balcony of the party headquarters where the march was to begin. Riot police ringed the exit to ensure marchers couldn't leave the building.

"I am a prisoner in the party's headquarters," said Sadi, a former presidential candidate who leads the Rally for Culture and Democracy party, from a balcony window.

The official news agency said seven police officers were hurt, including two with serious injuries. A party spokesman, Mohcine Belabbas, said six party members were injured.

Politician hurt

The party's leader in parliament, Atmane Mazouz, was hit in the face with a police baton. Five protesters were detained by police, only to be released later, APS reported.

Demonstrators shouted "Boutef out!" referring to President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika — echoing cries against Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali before he fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14 amid huge street protests in Tunisia. Protesters in countries like Algeria have set themselves on fire in apparent attempts to copy Mohammad Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian, who immolated himself.

Also yesterday, a Mauritanian businessman who set himself on fire died in Morocco, where he had been evacuated for treatment, his family said.

Eight Algerians and five Egyptians have also immolated themselves. Two more cases were reported in Morocco yesterday, one in Smara, western Sahara, and the other in Mellal, in the centre of the country.

Tunisia: police join protests

Thousands of Tunisian police, national guard, firemen and street cleaners thronged central Tunis yesterday, distancing themselves from deposed president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali in the largest demonstration for days.

The protest marks a turning point in the Tunisian uprising, throughout which Bin Ali loyalists in the police force fired on crowds, beat protesters with batons and used teargas.

"We came out today because we want national reconciliation," said a policeman who identified himself as Hatem. "Many people in the security forces were wrong... some ignorant people sullied our reputation ... people know now."