- Title: ALGERIA: Hundreds of protesters defy police
- Date: 20th February 2011
- Summary: ALGIERS, ALGERIA (FEBRUARY 19, 2011) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS SHOUTING: "Government Assassins" (French) PROTESTERS IN SIDE STREET MARCHING, MAN HOLDING SIGN READING: 'Government, fed up of believing you!'/ ANOTHER SIGN READING: 'Corrupt System' (French) POLICE IN RIOT GEAR HITTING THEIR SHIELDS WITH THEIR BATONS AS THEY PUSH TOWARDS THE PROTESTERS RIOT POLICE PUSHING DEMONSTRATORS (SOUNDBITE) (French) UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER, SAYING: "The struggle continues. We are announcing a dynamic and it's coming, it's coming. There was the Jasmine Revolution that succeeded, there was the revolution in Egypt. We have our own specificity in Algeria. We will win, God Willing." PROTESTERS CHANTING IN ARABIC AND HOLDING PAPER READING: 'Government get out. All for change' (French) (SOUNDBITE) (French) UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER, SAYING: "Why we came out? To protest against this dictator's government. So that he goes. We are fed up with this system, we are fed up with this government. The people want the fall of the regime." RIOT POLICE IN FRONT OF PROTESTERS STANDING ON A FENCE VARIOUS OF POLICE PUSHING PROTESTERS
- Embargoed: 7th March 2011 12:00
- Location: Algeria, Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAB096RQMU52VWX1P1K6R6ESBHR
- Story Text: Hundreds of Algerian police in riot gear on Saturday (February 19) surrounded about 500 protesters trying to stage a march through the capital demanding the fall of the regime in defiance of a ban.
Holding signs bearing anti-government slogans such as "Government, fed up of believing you!" and "Corrupt System", the demonstrators tried to reach May 1 Square in the city centre to begin the protest march but were driven two blocks away by police using batons.
They were then corralled into the courtyard of a residential block, where police in helmets and protective gear surrounded them -- together with several hundred onlookers and some pro-government demonstrators.
Unrest in Algeria could have implications for the world economy since it is a major oil and gas exporter, but analysts say an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely because the government can use its energy wealth to placate most grievances.
The protest was organised by human rights groups, some trade unionists and a small opposition party. Algeria's main opposition forces were not taking part.
One protester said he wanted an Algerian uprising to emulate those of Egypt and Tunisia which successfully toppled their respective governments.
"The struggle continues. We are announcing a dynamic and it's coming, it's coming. There was the Jasmine Revolution that succeeded, there was the revolution in Egypt. We have our own specificity in Algeria. We will win, God Willing," he said.
"Why we came out? To protest against this dictator's government. So that he goes. We are fed up with this system, we are fed up with this government. The people want the fall of the regime," said another protester, when asked why the people had taken to the streets.
Large numbers of police had been mobilised to try to prevent Saturday's protest from going ahead. Dozens of police vans and military-style police armoured vehicles were dotted around the capital hours before the demonstration was supposed to begin.
On the streets approaching May 1 Square, near the city's port, police were lined up along the road while riot-control vehicles with water cannon on standby.
A police helicopter hovered over the centre of Algiers, a city of densely-packed whitewashed buildings sloping down towards the Mediterranean Sea.
The authorities had refused permission for the march, citing public order concerns, but said the opposition could instead rally in an officially sanctioned venue.
About 150 protesters held a protest last Saturday (February 12) in May 1 Square and say they want to make it a weekly event until their demands for more democratic freedoms are met.
Many Algerians are unhappy with the government over high prices, unemployment and poor housing conditions. But they also fear turmoil in a country still emerging from nearly two decades of conflict with Islamist insurgents.
Though the protests themselves have been too small to rattle the authorities, there have been signs of pressure building from inside the ruling establishment for substantial change, including a new government line-up.
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