Algeria breaks up protests in some parts, while other parts rage on
|Notice the plain clothes Police|
Gathering in the central May 1 Square, demonstrators in Algiers chanted “Bouteflika out!” referring to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has ruled Algeria with a tough hand since 1999, maintaining power through elections that opposition figures say were rigged. The rally’s organizers said thousands had taken part, but news agencies and the government here gave vastly differing figures, from a few dozen to thousands.
Witnesses said thousands of riot police officers with clubs had blocked the demonstrators from carrying out a planned march in the center of the whitewashed seaside capital, which was otherwise tense and deserted on Saturday. By late afternoon, with the last of the demonstrators gone, the square was still sealed off by police officers, and dozens of armored police vehicles remained in the neighborhood.
It was unclear on Saturday what, if any, long-term implications the protest would have for Mr. Bouteflika’s government; outbursts of civil unrest have been frequent here for decades. But the large-scale deployment of the police and recent concessions — Mr. Bouteflika has promised to lift a longstanding state of emergency here — show the government is wary of the contagion of unrest in neighboring countries.
Many demonstrators were arrested Saturday, although there were also conflicting numbers for those detained.
Rioting started up again in the night, as can be seen in this video