Algerian opposition announces new march, despite ban

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Algiers, Feb 14 (AFP) Algerian opposition leaders,emboldened by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, has announced asecond protest march in the capital despite a longstanding banon demonstrations there.

The United States and Germany meanwhile called forrestraint from the Algerian authorities yesterday, a day aftera massive security operation prevented 2,000 protesters frommarching in Algiers.

The National Coordination for Change and Democracy(CNCD), a coalition of opposition parties, rights groups andunofficial unions, yesterday announced a new march for nextFriday after a meeting of its leadership.

It will start from May 1 Square, where Saturday''sdemonstration also took place, said lawyer MoustephaBouchachi, president of the Algerian League for the Defence ofHuman Rights (LADDH), which is part of the CNCD.

On Saturday, nearly 30,000 police prevented some 2,000protesters marching the four kilometres from May 1 Square toMartyrs Square.

The security forces made 14 arrests -- 300 accordingto the opposition.

That did not stop another demonstration in Annaba,where four police officers were slightly injured duringclashes with young protesters outside the local governmentheadquarters.

The media offered a mixed review of Saturday''srallies, with the pro-reform daily Liberte topping itscoverage with the headline: "Change is on its way".

But the government daily El Moudjahid dismissed theAlgiers rally as only a "weak echo" of events in Cairo andTunis.

CNDC spokesman Khalil Moumene yesterday condemned whathe said was the brutality of the security forces and thearrest of opposition activists the previous day.

"People braved the ban to come and demonstratepeacefully," and those arrested had been held several hoursbefore being released, he said.

The United States and Germany meanwhile both appealedto the Algerian authorities not to over-react.

"We note the ongoing protests in Algeria, and call forrestraint on the part of the security services," US StateDepartment spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement.

"We reaffirm our support for the universal rights ofthe Algerian people, including assembly and expression," headded.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told ARDtelevision: "These are demonstrators who want freedom, who aredoing nothing more than exercising a human right, to know theright to defend with dignity their point of view.

"That is why we condemn all forms of recourse toviolence." (AFP)

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