By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Saturday, January 22, 2011
ALGIERS: Authorities in Algeria called on residents of the capital to ignore opposition calls to join a pro-democracy march Saturday and warned it was not legal, amid concern of more Tunisia-style unrest.
The demonstration, called by the Rally for Culture and Democracy, comes with the region rattled by the toppling last week of Tunisia’s authoritarian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after weeks of protests.
“Citizens are asked to show wisdom and vigilance and not respond to possible provocation aimed at disturbing their tranquillity, peace of mind and serenity,” the Algiers administration said on state news agency APS.
It reiterated in a statement that “marches are not allowed in Algiers” and “all assemblies on public roads are considered a breach of public order.”
The march was planned “without authorization,” it said. Demonstrations are banned in Algeria because of a state of emergency law in place since 1992.
RCD head Said Sadi has said he is determined to push on with the march, despite the ban, with the demonstration to also demand the release of suspected rioters arrested in January.
As protests in neighboring Tunisia in mid-December gathered pace, riots erupted in Algeria in early January over soaring food costs and unemployment.
Five days of clashes between demonstrators and security forces left five people dead and more than 800 wounded – almost all of them soldiers. Authorities have announced that 1,100 people were arrested.
Tunisia’s former President Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, the unprecedented street protests ending his 23-year grip on power. Algerian commentators have said that more protests could break out in Algeria. – AFP