- Title: ALGERIA: Anti-government protesters take to the streets of Algiers
- Date: 6th March 2011
- Summary: ALGIERS, ALGERIA (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (MARCH 5, 2011) (REUTERS) YOUTHS SHOUTING SLOGANS AGAINST PRIME MINISTER AHMED OUYAHIA
- Embargoed: 21st March 2011 12:00
- Location: Algeria, Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADOIK16DPL0NJ7M9W5SZ6IT4LW
- Story Text: An Algerian opposition party and members of civil society groups organised three simultaneous marches in Algiers on Saturday (March 5) to protest against the current government.
The Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) party and the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (NCCD) took to the streets, despite a recent charm offensive launched by the Algerian government.
Critics of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika say that despite the country's huge oil and gas resources, Algeria has deep structural problems, including a lack of democratic freedoms, persistent unemployment and poor housing conditions. The government has introduced a string of reforms to try and head off any unrest.
But on Saturday, around 50 demonstrators gathered in three different locations, aiming to march to Martyrs' Square in the centre of the city.
While some protesters chanted slogans denouncing Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, some turned out to support the government, leading to confrontation between the two sides.
Some anti-government protesters said they had been attacked by local people as they started their march.
"This capital belongs to all the Algerians. See, there aren't even any ambulances. They should have let the ambulances through because there are some wounded demonstrators," said one demonstrator. He alleged that when he made his way to hospital, he was treated with suspicion.
"I walked to Mustafa Bacha hospital from Al Madanya and when I tell them that we got hit in the march, they see us as thugs. We are asking for the rights of the people, the rights of all the Algerian people, we are not regionalists," the protester said.
After the incident, the head of the opposition RCD party, Said Saadi, reportedly left the march.
One pro-government demonstrator said the opposition leader was not welcome.
"Said Saadi, we don't need you. They want to set Algeria on fire, Algeria is fine," he said, adding: "I am a martyr's son, we are with Bouteflika, we have just started to live like people and they want to ruin everything!"
The Algerian government has recently lifted a 19-year-old state of emergency and gave opposition voices airtime on television, key demands of its opponents. It also is investing billions of dollars in modernising the economy and building new homes.
The government's concessions have polarised the coalition behind the protests. Some want radical change while others say the latest measures are a positive signal.
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