Algeria army should quit politics: opposition

Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:48am GMT

By Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS (Reuters) - The ousting of Tunisia's president after a popular revolt should encourage the army in neighbouring Algeria to ease its grip on the country's politics, Algeria's main opposition leader said on Thursday.

Said Saadi, leader of the secular Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), also called for the release of dozens of Algerians arrested during riots that coincided with the climax of Tunisian protests earlier this month.

The RCD, the biggest holder of opposition seats in parliament, plans to stage a protest march on Saturday to push for the release of the prisoners.

Authorities in Algiers have not authorised the march and said it would "disturb public order". "Citizens are urged to demonstrate wisdom and vigilance and ignore eventual provocative acts," Algiers' administrative governorate said in a statement carried by the official APS news agency.

Rises in food prices prompted days of riots in several Algerian towns, including the capital, in which officials say two people were killed and hundreds injured when rioters and police clashed.

Algerian media later reported attempts to copy the self-immolation of a Tunisian man that sparked the unrest there and ended President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's rule.

"If the opposition does not mobilise the crowds, we believe that we will have more devastating events than what happened in Tunisia," Saadi told Reuters in an interview.

"The anger here is bigger than (it was) in Tunisia. In 2010, we had more than 9,700 riots and unrests," Saadi added.   Continued...

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