Algeria sees no ‘domino effect’ from Egypt, Tunisia protests

AFP , Sunday 20 Feb 2011

Algeria's foreign minister is not convinced anti-government protests that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Cairo will spread to his country as part of a domino effect

People demonstrate outside the Algerian consulate in Montreal on Saturday 12 February 2011, calling for president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down. (AP)

Anti-government protests that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt will not spread to Algeria as part of a "domino effect" across the region, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said in an interview published Sunday.

"The domino effect is an invention on the part of the media, including that of Algeria which is very free. I don't think it applies to Algeria. Algeria is not Egypt or Tunisia," he told spanish daily newspaper El Pais.

Riot police clashed with anti-government protesters Saturday who tried to rally in May 1 Square in the centre of Algiers.

Several hundred managed to get into the square even though police blockaded adjacent streets with armoured vehicles.

In a protest a week ago journalists estimated roughly 2,000 demonstrators succeeded in gathering in the square but were prevented from starting a planned four-kilometre (three-mile) march to Martyrs Square.

"According to reliable police data, there were no more than 500 people, to which you can add a few transients. It was demonstrated that the conveners are a minority," said Medelci of the protest held last week.

Protests have also been reported over the past week in Libya, sandwiched between Egypt and Tunisia, as well as in Bahrain, Yemen and Iran.

Medelci said "what was happening at Algeria's doors was worrying" in the interivew granted to the newspaper on Friday.

"There is instability. We have seen how this mobilization thanks to the Internet can gain large proportions," he added.

Earlier this month Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said a state of emergency in force in Algeria since 1992 would be lifted in the near future as demanded by the opposition.

Medelci refused to specify when the state of emergency would be lifted.

"It can be lifted when it has born all its fruits," he said.

Medelci was in Madrid Friday for talks with his Spanish counterpart Trinidad Jimenez.

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