Algeria protesters push for change.
Algerian security forces and pro-democracy protesters have clashed in the capital, Algiers, amid demonstrations inspired by the revolution in Egypt. At least 2,000 protesters were able to overcome a security cordon enforced around the city’s May First Square on Saturday, joining other demonstrators calling for reform.
Earlier, thousands of police in riot gear were in position to stop the demonstrations that could mimic the uprising which forced out Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s long-serving president. Security forces closed all entrances to Algiers and arrested hundreds of protesters, sources told Al Jazeera.
Elias Filali, an Algerian blogger and activist, said human rights activists and syndicate members were among those arrested at the scene of the protests.Officials banned Saturday’s opposition march but protesters were determined to see it through.
Protesters are demanding greater democratic freedoms, a change of government and more jobs. Many are left wondering which country could be next in a region where a flammable mix of authoritarian rule and popular anger are the norm. “There is a lot of discontent among young people … the country is badly managed by a corrupt regime that does not want to listen”.
Police presence is routine in Algeria to counter the threat of attacks by al-Qaeda fighters. But Filali called the heavy police presence in the capital on Saturday “unbelievable”.
At May First Square, the starting point for the planned march, there were around 40 police vans, jeeps and buses lined up, Filali said.
Other Arab countries have also felt the ripples from the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia:
Jordan’s King Abdullah replaced his prime minister after protests.
In Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh promised opponents he would not seek a new term as president.
The Bahraini government has also made several concessions in recent weeks, including promising higher social spending. Activists there have called for protests on February 14, the tenth anniversary of Bahrain’s constitution.
Two regimes toppled in two months, democracy is contagious.