About 2,500 auxiliary police gather in Algerian capital

AFP , Sunday 3 Apr 2011

Auxiliary policemen in Algeria await response to their demands for better pay and conditions as a part of the general wave of protests and demonstrations recently

About 2,500 Algerian auxiliary policemen gathered Sunday to await President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's response to their demands for better pay and conditions issued at a huge rally a month ago.

The president's office had said it would announce its reply later Sunday, a representative told the men in central Algiers, some of whom had arrived late Saturday.

About 3,000 security forces with armoured vehicles surrounded the crowd, an AFP reporter at the scene said, estimating the number of demonstrators to be 2,500.

"We should have the response to our demands today," representative Hakim Chaib shouted in a megaphone as demonstrators chanted "Bouteflika is the solution".

"If the response is positive, we will go home. If it is not, we will camp here," Chaib told AFP.

Algeria's auxiliary police force of about 94,000 men was set up in 1994 to provide extra security while the government battled Islamist rebel groups.

On March 7 around 10,000 demonstrated in the capital to demand better retirement and social security benefits, higher wages and eventual integration into the general police force.

They also want the reinstatement of about 38,000 of their colleagues who were apparently dismissed for absenteeism or were put on sick leave, one of the men said.

Social and political demonstrations have increased in recent weeks in Algeria, as they have in the rest of the Arab world since protests that overthrew the long-standing rulers of Tunisia and Egypt early this year.

Five people were killed and about 800 wounded in rioting in Algiers after protests in early January against rises in the costs of living.

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