Algerian minister confirms Algiers march ban

31st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Algeria's interior minister confirmed a longstanding ban on marches in the capital Algiers in an interview Sunday with the French language daily Liberte.

"Marches are banned in Algiers," for opposition and pro-government demonstrators alike, Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia told the paper, justifying it on security grounds.

"Algiers is a city of three million inhabitants. There are problems that cannot be taken into account by the organisers of marches," he said.

Troublemakers who had nothing to do with the real aims of the march might intervene, he argued.

"There is always the problem posed by terrorism," he added.

Police in Algiers have had a high-profile presence there since a series of suicide attacks in Algiers in April and December 2007.

More recently, on January 22, they moved in to stop a rally organised by the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD).

But the pro-democracy Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) has said it plans a march in Algiers on February 12.

The LADDH forms part of a group calling itself the National Coordination for Change and Democracy, set up in the wake of riots in early January that left five dead and more than 800 injured.

The group demands the end of the government and its 19-year state of emergency.

Mounting grievances over spiraling costs and unemployment triggered the riots earlier this month, encouraged by public protests in Tunisia that forced its president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee.

© 2011 AFP

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