Algeria prepares for day of protests


Angelique Chrisafis
Guardian
February 11, 2011 16.47 GMT

Algeria, the oil-rich, military-dominated north African state, is braced for a day of pro-democracy protests, despite a ban on demonstrations in the capital, Algiers, and a large security presence intent on containing any uprising inspired by Egypt or Tunisia.

A key energy exporter and the biggest country in the Maghreb, Algeria last month used its powerful armed forces to contain several days of rioting, triggered by price rises for sugar and cooking oil. At least five people died and around 800 were injured in demonstrations against youth unemployment, poor housing and corruption, including several people who set themselves alight.

Now a hastily formed umbrella group of civil associations, independent trade unionists and small political parties has called for a national day of protest on Saturday , under the slogan “Changing the system”. It is calling for an end to 12 years of authoritarian rule by Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his generals.

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