ALGIERS (AFP) – More than 10,000 protesters marched against authorities in Algeria’s northeastern city of Bejaia on Saturday, organisers said, in the country’s latest rally inspired by neighbouring Tunisia.
Demonstrators marched peacefully in the city in Algeria’s Berber-speaking Kabylie region, shouting Tunisia-inspired slogans such as: “For a radical change of the regime!,” a lawmaker with the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), Mohamed Ikhervane, told AFP.
“The protest gathered more than 10,000 people,” said RCD leader Said Sadi, whose group organised the rally.
Police were out in force around the city but protesters dispersed calmly, Ikhervane said.
Separately, pro-democracy group the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) said it plans a new march in Algiers on February 12.
The group’s leader, Mustapha Bouchachi, said the protest had been postponed from the original date of February 9 to enable workers and students to take part.
The LADDH forms part of a group calling itself the National Coordination for Change and Democracy, which was 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 spiralling 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.
Algiers responded swiftly by reducing the prices of oil, sugar and other basic necessities which had risen sharply, and assuring that subsidies on essential goods like flour would continue.
Unrest still simmers, however, and within the past two weeks eight people set themselves on fire in Algeria, although some cases were deemed to be linked to mental health issues.