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Thread: Algerian protesters clash with police as Egypt celebrates new dawn

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    Default Algerian protesters clash with police as Egypt celebrates new dawn

    Algerian protesters clash with police as Egypt celebrates new dawn

    12.02.2011
    DEUTSCHE WELLE NEWS

    Gro゚ansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Police were ready for a repeat of protests last month


    While Egyptians celebrate a political revolution, clashes have taken place in Algeria as protesters push for a regime change of their own. Police in riot gear have moved in on a banned rally, making arrests.

    Algerian police have moved in to stifle pro-democracy protesters attempting to stage a banned march inspired by events in Egypt.


    Scuffles broke out as security forces in riot gear arrested demonstrators on Saturday morning, with some reports that police attacked marchers with clubs.



    About 30,000 security personnel were deployed, with officers surrounding protesters in a cordon to prevent the rally from taking place. Organizers said that several thousand protesters had turned out.


    "I am sorry to say the government has deployed a huge force to prevent a peaceful march. This is not good for Algeria's image," said Mustafa Bouchachi, a leader of the League for Human Rights group, which has helped organize the march.


    Thousand of officers were stationed in the center of the Algerian capital, Algiers, in readiness for the protest.





    Bildunterschrift: Gro゚ansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Protests on Saturday called for Bouteflika to leave officeEgyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Friday had prompted spontaneous evening demonstrations by Algeria's opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) party, which were quashed by police.


    A robust police presence was in place in Algiers before the start of the Saturday protest. Military-style armored vehicles were deployed at several road junctions around the city, with the main contingent of officers based in May 1 Square, the planned starting point for the rally.


    "We are ready for the demonstration," Mohsen Belabes, spokesman for the RCD, said ahead of the rally. "It's going to be a great day for democracy."


    Call for new freedoms, jobs
    A group of about 20 protesters reached the square ahead of the starting time, calling for an end to the rule of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has enforced 19 years of a state of emergency in the country.




    Bildunterschrift: Gro゚ansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Saadi said police had ringed to city to stifle demonstrations
    Demonstrators want more democratic freedom, a change of government and action to tackle unemployment.


    In the demonstrations on Friday, police charged on demonstrators and 10 people were arrested, according to RCD leader Said Saadi. He said that several protesters needed hospital treatment, adding that authorities had surrounded the capital to prevent people entering it to join the march.
    "Trains have been stopped and other public transport will be as well," he said.
    The opposition leader also claimed that 10,000 police had been drafted in to reinforce the security forces.
    In the last protest on January 22, five people were killed and more than 800 hurt in clashes.


    Wave of unrest across region
    Following the departure of the Egyptian president and the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali last month, the Algerian regime is one of several in the Middle East and North Africa facing popular protests.




    Bildunterschrift: Gro゚ansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: In Bahrain, money is being handed out ahead of protests


    In the oil-rich Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, officials are giving $2,650 (1,950 euros) to each Bahraini family in what is being seen as a bid to by the Sunni rulers to appease the majority Shiite public before protests planned next week. The payment is officially a celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of a state charter for political reforms.


    The Egyptian military began on Saturday morning to remove barricades around Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the revolt against Mubarak's 30-year autocratic rule.


    Senior military officials, to whom Mubarak handed power, said they would respect the will of the people but have yet to present solid plans for a transition.

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    Default Re: Algerian protesters clash with police as Egypt celebrates new dawn

    It will be interesting to see what happens next in the ME. Will the dominos continue to fall?

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    Default Re: Algerian protesters clash with police as Egypt celebrates new dawn

    Algeria shuts down internet and Facebook as protest mounts

    Internet providers were shut down and Facebook accounts deleted across Algeria on Saturday as thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations.


    Algerian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Algiers Photo: EPA


    By Nabila Ramdani 7:25PM GMT 12 Feb 2011

    Plastic bullets and tear gas were used to try and disperse large crowds in major cities and towns, with 30,000 riot police taking to the streets in Algiers alone.

    There were also reports of journalists being targeted by state-sponsored thugs to stop reports of the disturbances being broadcast to the outside world.

    But it was the government attack on the internet which was of particular significance to those calling for an end to President Abdelaziz Boutifleka's repressive regime.

    Protesters mobilising through the internet were largely credited with bringing about revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

    "The government doesn't want us forming crowds through the internet," said Rachid Salem, of Co-ordination for Democratic Change in Algeria.

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    "Security forces are armed to the teeth out on the street, and they're also doing everything to crush our uprising on the internet. Journalists, and especially those with cameras, are being taken away by the police."

    President Hosni Mubarak had tried to shut down internet service providers during 18 days of protest before stepping down as Egyptian leader on Friday.

    Mostafa Boshashi, head of the Algerian League for Human Rights, said: "Algerians want their voices to be heard too. They want democratic change.

    "At the moment people are being prevented from travelling to demonstrations. The entrances to cities like Algeria have been blocked."

    At least five people were killed in similar protests in Algeria in January, when the Interior Ministry said 1000 people were arrested.

    On Saturday at least 500 had been arrested by early evening in Algiers alone, with hundreds more in Annaba, Constantine and Oran taking part in the so-called February 12 Revolution.

    "The police station cells are overflowing," said Sofiane Hamidouche, a demonstrator in Annaba.

    "There are running battles taking place all over the city. It's chaos. As night falls the situation will get worse."

    Algeria has the eighth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and is also oil-rich, but its youthful population suffers mass unemployment, a chronic lack of housing, and widespread poverty. Political corruption is also endemic.

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    Default Re: Algerian protesters clash with police as Egypt celebrates new dawn

    Saharawis at unease over Algeria, Morocco unrest

    Saharawi protesters
    UPES/afrol News
    afrol News, 12 February - Saharawis in Algerian refugee camps and in Morocco-occupied Western Sahara are watching the revolution wave in North Africa with jubilation and unease. Should they lend a helping hand, or better not?
    The wave of revolt is getting closer for the Saharawis. For this weekend, the start of mass protests in Algeria has been announced - Algeria being the main ally of Saharawis fighting for their independence and the host for around 150,000 Saharawi refugees. For next weekend, marches are announced in Morocco - their occupying power.

    "The Saharawis in both sides of the wall [in the occupied territory and the refugee camps] are able to follow the news of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt thanks to satellite TV channels, especially 'Al Jazeera', which is now the most watched TV in the Arab and Muslim world," Saharawi journalist Lakhal Malainin tells afrol News. Mr Malainin is based in the Algerian refugee camps and is close to the exiled Saharawi government.

    But also in the mostly state-conform Saharawi national medias, "there have been a very good follow up of the events to give the Saharawis an opportunity to understand and follow what is happening there; in Tunisia and Egypt," Mr Malainin adds.




    As in most Arab locations, Saharawis in the Algerian refugee camps therefore also celebrated the Egyptian people's victory over Dictator Hosni Mubarak. Also in Saharawi media, especially in blogs like 'UPES', which is edited by Mr Malainin, there have been a lot of reactions, articles and opinions praising the Tunisian people and their revolution, and other criticising Mr Mubarak's intransigence and expressing support to the demonstrators in both countries.

    "Saharawis hope for change, we believe in a Maghreb Union for the peoples, we believe in a unified democratic Africa, we hope that what happened in Tunisia and Egypt is a prelude to a renaissance in the Arab world, which is governed by dictatorships and corrupted regimes," Mr Malainin emphasises.

    Asked about to which degree the unfolding protests in their host country Algeria are known to the Saharawi refugees, Mr Malainin says that households there are very well informed. "Even the poorest ones make sure to buy satellite TV to follow the developments," he says.

    Indeed, Saharawis for weeks have expressed concern about the possibility of a popular revolution in Algeria. "What do we do if the Algerian regime changes?" asks "Mohamadan" in a blog of the opposition web-media 'Futuro Saharaui'. He sees great similarities between Mr Mubarak's Egypt and the regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria: "Its days are counted."

    "Nobody can deny that Algeria is the most faithful ally of the Saharawi population," the blogger establishes, asking what to do if a ne
    Saharawi journalist and 'UPES' editor Lakhal Malainin
    Private/afrol News
    w, revolutionary government in Algiers withdraws its support for his people. "Mohamadan" concludes that the exiled Saharawi government should become "exemplary" when it comes to democratic values, so as to assure new allies, maybe in Europe.

    Mr Malainin agrees to parts of the argument. "Saharawis in the camps or in the occupied territories, are, and must be, concerned about anything that happens in Algeria because Algeria is our main ally and supporter, yet I do not think that there will be a 'revolt' in Algeria similar to those in the neighbouring countries," he argues, adding that political freedoms and the human rights situation in Algeria is better.

    "As for the position of Algeria regarding Western Sahara conflict, it has never changed since the 1960s, because it is not a position linked to individuals, or presidents or governments or interests," he adds, referring to the continuous backing from Algiers throughout changing regimes.

    "This said, we hope that the Algerian government succeeds in resolving all the social, economic or political problems it may face now or in the future, because a strong, prosperous Algeria is of course a strong and important friend and ally and Saharawis have everything to gain from that," Mr Malainin carefully adds.

    Another development that strongly could influence the Saharawi fight for independence is the announced mass protests in Morocco, set to start next weekend. In several forums, Saharawis loudly discuss what this could mean for their cause and whether a Moroccan revolt could have any chance of succeeding. Officialist Saharawi media are eager to spread as much information about the planned protests as possible.

    While Salek Jatri Andala, blogging on 'Futuro Saharaui', argues that the "divine" position of the King in Morocco leaves no hope for the protesters and that Saharawis should "not fall into the error of hoping for the [Moroccan] population to support us," others argue a revolt in Morocco could open a Pandora's Box.

    Mr Malainin again carefully points out that "the Saharawis are not the ones who call for the revolt in Morocco, there are a lot of Moroccan voices that start calling for change in their countries, and their calls are very legitimate." He however reveals that Saharawi media are trying to help the Moroccans read real information about their own country."

    "But, I personally think that the Moroccan people are not yet ready to pay the price the Egyptian paid to get power back. Morocco will wait for years before any similar change, I think," he says.
    In Octover 2010, over 10,000 Saharawis in the occupied territory erected a protest camp, later attacked by Moroccan police
    UPES/afrol News
    Referring to popular talks in the camps, Mr Malainin adds that people "Of course would love to see a democratic regime in Morocco."

    In Western Sahara, which has seen some of the most forceful popular revolts against the Moroccan occupiers a few months ago, the situation is almost suspiciously calm nowadays. "Could there be a feeling among Saharawis under occupation that it is better to keep calm now, so as to give Moroccans a chance to focus on their own rebellion?" afrol News asks Mr Malainin.

    He rejects the question. There had "always been struggling against the occupation," he insists, but this had "seldom attracted international media's" attention. "There are these days demonstrations in Tan Tan, Gulmim, Fask - and it will never stop."

    But as the protests against authoritarian Arab regimes are spreading around the region, there is of course renewed questioning of how democratic the exiled government of Western Sahara - formed out of the freedom fighting movement POLISARIO - really is. In the name of the need for national unity until Western Sahara is liberated, POLISARIO is the one-and-only political movement allowed.

    The question is increasingly raised at international levels. Charg d'Affaires Robert P. Jackson of the US Embassy in Morocco in August 2009 held that Morocco was experiencing "real political competition, while perhaps not democracy," which seemed "far more open than the Cuba-like POLISARIO system. Through the journal 'Futuro Saharaui', unemployed Saharawi youths have also called for more pluralism.

    Through debate forums, some Saharawis have said that, after the fall of the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, one should organise a revolution in the refugee camps against "the regime of [POLISARIO leader Mohamed] Abdelaziz and his band." Other insist "we are not in the same situation as the Tunisians .. We don't have political opponents forced into exile."

    Mr Malainin, who is close to the exiled government, insists "there are always critics to POLISARIO in the camps and they are always tolerated by the Saharawi leadership. I do not think that the problem in the camps is more democratisation or not, the problem is that people are tired of waiting for the UN to respect its promises and a dangerous frustration from this international silence in front of the Moroccan crimes."

    "Saharawis will always fight for democracy and for their rights and they will face anyone who dare violate these rights be it Morocco or any foreign power or be it any Saharawi leader or government," Mr Malainin concludes.

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