Thursday, 6 January 2011

Youth riots over mounting food prices

Algerian youths have staged a number of riots in protest to rising food prices. The clashes, which took place in the Bab El Oued area of Algiers, saw buildings set ablaze and roads in Tipaza barricaded with torched tyres. The rioting youths reportedly hurled stones at the police and "wrecked a bus shelter."

The outbreak of violence comes shortly after an increase in prices for milk, sugar and flour and mounting frustrations amid Algerians that the country's oil and gas wealth has done little to improve their living conditions. In trying to appease the nation, Algeria's Commerce Minister Mustapha Benbada said that the hike in prices was not unique to Algeria but a greater worldwide trend.

It is believed that several similar riots were also staged in other parts of the country - including Balkor, Bash Jarrah, Babal Wadi and Astawali - protesting against poor living condition and the mounting prices of basic comestibles.

There was a widespread feeling of anti government sentiments among the rioters who chanted slogans criticising President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and blaming his government for lack of water, power outages and poor distribution of social housing. Demonstrators posted videos on the internet of large fires burning in the streets and police trying to contain people with tear gas.

Algeria is still recovering from insurgency following the cancellation of the 1992 elections and while during his time in office Bouteflika has overseen a relatively calm period in the country, it is believed that the current uprising migh ignite further riots and violence.

Sources: Bloomberg, Ahram Online, Aljazeera, Washington Post

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

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