Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Feb. 3 that the country’s 19-year state of emergency would be lifted “in the very near future.” The state of emergency was installed solely in response “to the fight against terrorism” Bouteflika said, denying it had “interfered” with the country’s political process. The president’s announcement came amid mounting calls by civil society leaders and opposition parties to lift the state of emergency. The pro-democracy Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) plans a march in Algiers on February 12.
Bouteflika also said protests will only be allowed outside Algiers, where there is a decade-old ban against demonstrations. “To be sure, the capital is an exception in this aspect for well-known reasons of public order and certainly not to stop any sort of expression,” Bouteflika said.
The LADDH forms part of the National Coordination for Change and Democracy, set up in the wake of January riots that left five dead and more than 800 injured. The coalition demands the government step down and lift the state of emergency. (Middle East Online, Feb. 3)