German foreign minister appeals for restraint in Algeria

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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday urged the Algerian authorities to refrain from using violence against demonstrators, in comments on state television.

"The German government calls on the Algerian government to renounce all recourse to violence," the minister said on the ARD public television channel.

"These are demonstrators who want freedom, who are doing nothing more than exercising a human right, to know the right to defend with dignity their point of view.

"That is why we condemn all forms of recourse to violence," he said.

"As democrats we are on the side of democrats. I have already said that about Tunisia and Egypt. I say it again now in allusion to other countries," he said.

Westerwelle described the situation in Egypt, where strongman Hosni Mubarak handed power to the military on Friday, as "still fragile", adding that it could at any moment erupt into violence.

The US government has also called on Algerian authorities to show restraint.

Algerian security forces were out in force on Saturday to prevent an opposition march in the capital Algiers.

Some 30,000 members of the security forces arrested 14 protesters, the interior ministry said -- 300 according to the opposition.

Marches are banned in Algiers under the terms of a state of emergency declared in 1992 and enforced in the capital in 2001.

But the opposition, emboldened by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that brought down authoritarian regimes there, is determined to force changes in Algeria and on Sunday announced a new march in the capital for next Saturday.

© 2011 AFP

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