Saturday, 5 February 2011
Algerian opposition to hold rally despite promises
(AFP) – Algeria's opposition said Saturday it will go ahead with a planned protest next week to keep up pressure on the president to step down, despite his pledge to lift a two-decade state of emergency.
Defying a longstanding government ban on protests in the capital, the Rally for Culture and Democracy will march on February 12 in Algiers at 11 am (1000 GMT), RCD official Tahar Besbes told AFP.
"The rally will take place ... So far we have not been refused permission by the city of Algiers to organise our march," he said.
The opposition is demanding the immediate end of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's regime, citing the same problems of high unemployment, and soaring costs that have inspired uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.
The Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), which forms part of a part of a group calling itself the National Coordination for Change and Democracy, set up in the wake of January riots, will also join the protest.
Bouteflika on Thursday promised that Algeria's 19-year state of emergency would be lifted "in the very near future" amid a raft of new measures announced including a call for state-owned broadcasters to provide fair coverage of authorised political parties -- a key demand of the opposition.
But the RDC said that the president's pledge to lift martial law was a political "manoeuvre" aimed at creating "diversion."
Another , the Socialist Forces Front, said that while the measure contained a "positive signal," a new anti-terrorist law announced by Bouteflika was a cause for "concern and suspicion."
In response to growing public anger, the government has subsequently lowered the price of cooking oil and sugar and said it would subsidize other staples like wheat and milk.