Friday, 25 February 2011

Algeria lifts 19 year long state of emergency

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has signed an order lifting the 19 year long state of emergency as a concession to the opposition, and a means to prevent the demonstrations spiralling further out of control.

Experts say that the government's decision might prevent the protests from gaining momentum, and eventually leading to Bouteflika's resignation. Ending the emergency powers was one of the demands made by opposition groups responsible for staging weekly protests in Algiers.

Originally, the state of emergency was imposed in order to help authorities' combat Islamist militants but, in the past few years, since militant activity has subsided, the Algerian government has been using the measure to suppress democratic freedoms.

US President Barack Obama has commended the Algerian government for lifting the measure, saying it was a positive sign that the government was taking heed of people's demands. He added that the US was hoping Algeria would also take other steps to allow the people greater freedoms.

Sources: Reuters, Voice of America, The Washington Post

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

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