Police block protests in Algeria
On Saturday police mounted a massive security operation that headed off marchers who were calling for an end to President Bouteflika’s regime. Riot police in central Algiers were able to block about 40 demonstrators who were attempting to hold a rally.
A main movement against the president is led by the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD). The group was set up on Jan. 21st after riots earlier that left five dead and almost 800 injured.
The CNCD wants Bouteflika to step down. The group cites some of the same problems of high unemployment, housing and soaring costs that in part inspired the uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.
As the small group of protesters tried to march they were surrounded by a much larger group of police estimated at about 400 complete with helmets and anti-riot shields. The CNCD is divided on the question of street protests with many groups including independent trade unions who favor other methods than the street protests.