5 March 2011

Algeria: Opposition Protests Broken Up

Photo: Summit Photo
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Algerian police and pro-government activists on Saturday foiled a sixth attempt by opposition protesters to march in the capital Algiers.

A faction of the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD) had called the protest in three different parts of the city for 11am, defying a government ban on demonstrating in Algiers.

The few dozen demonstrators who answered the call were quickly surrounded by police and counter-demonstrators who chased them and roughed up them up.

The counter-demonstrators, most of whom were young, then turned on CNCD member and Rally for Culture and Democracy leader Said Sadi, threatening to "lynch" him, according to an eyewitness, Sadi fled the scene after shouting: "We will continue to march regardless of the steps the regime takes to prevent us."

West of Algiers, at Ain Benian, barriers were set up Saturday morning to prevent pedestrian access and armoured vehicles and a large detachment of helmeted police kept the area under observation, though witnesses said nothing took place.

Sadi accused the authorities of having banned marches outside Algiers although they say the prohibition applies only to the capital.

He said a march in Batna, 430 km south-east of Algiers was banned on Saturday.

In the major western city of Oran a planned march was banned, with about 100 people arrested and later freed.

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