Thursday, 24 March 2011

Protesters clash with riot police in Algiers

On Wednesday 23rd March, hundreds of people clashed with riot police in Algiers. The violence broke out in the early hours of the morning following an announcement by city authorities that a group of houses, built on public gardens, were there illegally and would therefore be torn-down. Reports of those injured vary: witnesses say that around 40 people were hurt, while the police says it is closer to 20, most of them being officers.

The latest clashes between Algerian people and security forces come amid rising tensions within the country over poor living conditions and unemployment. In light of the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, Algerian people are growing increasingly disenchanted with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his administration.

In a bid to placate the ever-increasingly disgruntled public, Bouteflika's government has promised progress in building more houses, roads and schools. On Saturday 19th March, Bouteflika's spokesman also announced political changes, but gave no details. It has now emerged that the promised changes would include a revision of the constitution to increase the prerogatives of the parliament, anchor the independence of the judicial branch from executive power, and cap the number of presidential terms.

A senior official with Algeria's National Liberation Front, Abdelhamid Si Afif, said the government intended to “modernize Algeria without plunging into uncharted political territory and violence” and will do so in accordance with the above outlined changes.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuter, Euronews, BusinessLIVE

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

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