Algerian braces for second pro-democracy rally

February 19, 2011 07:51

ALGIERS, Algeria — Pro-democracy protesters in Algeria vowed to hold a march Saturday even though thousands of police blocked their path a week ago.

The new march comes amid weeks of strikes and scattered protests in the North African country, which has promised to lift a 19-year state of emergency by month's end in a nod to the growing mass of disgruntled citizens.

University students and nurses are among those who have held intermittent strikes, joined by the unemployed. Even the richest region, around the gas fields of Hassi Messaoud, was not spared as around 500 jobless youth protested Wednesday, the daily El Watan reported.

Rising food prices led to five days of riots in Algeria last month that left three people dead.

An estimated 25,000 police blocked marchers from their route in a similar protest in Algiers a week ago. But organizers, the Coordination for Democratic Change in Algeria, still called it a success, claiming 10,000 people took part. Officials put the number at 1,500.

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