- Title: ALGERIA: Algerian doctors protest in front of PM's office
- Date: 19th February 2010
- Summary: ALGIERS, ALGERIA (FEBRUARY 17, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MEDICAL STAFF SURROUNDED BY THE POLICE FORCES, EXPRESSING THEIR ANGER AND CHANTING SLOGANS VARIOUS OF THE MEDICAL STAFF HOLDING ALGERIAN FLAGS AND CHANTING SLOGANS VARIOUS OF THE SECURITY FORCES SURROUNDING THE MEDICAL STAFF MEDICAL STAFF AT DEMONSTRATION (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) Dr. MOHAMED YOUSFI, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF THE PRACTITIONERS SPECIALISTS IN THE PUBLIC HEALTH , SAYING: "These practitioners are determined, the strike will continue. And this kind of measure will not make us give up what we are demanding. We are showing to the public and international opinion what is going on. We asked to gather peacefully, we did not ask for something impossible. We asked to talk to the Prime Minister or one of his assistants. They refused to see us. They refused to give us our rights. Explain to me in which kind of country are we living?" VARIOUS OF THE POLICE FORCES AND THE MEDICAL STAFF
- Embargoed: 6th March 2010 12:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA3CLMSF0TZ04H1KRJGT96AYWGD
- Story Text: Algerian doctors on strike for better pay and conditions staged a rare protest in front of government headquarters on Wednesday (February 17), in a fresh sign of social tensions in the energy exporting North African country.
In the past six months, mounting public anger over rising prices, unemployment and poor housing has led to a wave of strikes and sporadic rioting.
Algeria, which supplies about a fifth of Europe's gas needs and is the world's eighth biggest oil exporter, is wrestling with social problems while also trying to stamp out an insurgency by a small hard-core of al Qaeda militants.
About 300 protesters, after a brief stand-off with riot police, were allowed to gather in a small park opposite the building housing the government headquarters.
The doctors, many of them in white coats, chanted "the health-care system is in danger" and waved soccer-style red cards in the direction of the building where Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has his office.
It is unusual for a protest to be allowed anywhere near the government headquarters.
Security there has been extremely tight since an April 2007 bombing, which al Qaeda said it carried out, ripped off part of the building's facade.
Doctors' union leader Mohamed Yousfi said 80 percent of Algeria's nearly 40,000 public sector doctors were on strike, though this figure has not been confirmed by the government. The doctors are demanding more pay, benefits and time off work.
He said the strike and protests would continue until the government met the union's demands.
"We asked to gather peacefully, we did not ask for something impossible. We asked to talk to the Prime Minister or one of his assistants. They refused to see us. They refused to give us our rights," Yousfi said.
Inflation in Algeria last year was 5.7 percent, according to official figures, though price rises for some food staples reached double digits. The government has raised civil servants' pay but they say inflation has cancelled out the increases. (Editing by Jon Hemming)
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