Many demonstrators in Algeria have been inspired by the events unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia [AFP]

Thousands of police are reportedly being drafted into the Algerian capital ahead of planned pro-democracy marches, opposition groups have said.

Said Sadi, the head of the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), said authorities were moving to prevent Saturday's protests in Algiers from taking place.

"Trains have been stopped and other public transport will be as well," he told the AFP news agency.

According to Sadi, around 10,000 police officers were coming into reinforce the 20,000 that blocked the last protest staged on January 22, when five people were killed and more than 800 hurt in clashes.

Attempts to appease

The latest rally is being organised by the National Co-ordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), a three-week-old umbrella group of opposition parties, civil society movements and unofficial unions inspired by the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

Demonstrators in the oil-rich nation have been protesting over the last few months against unemployment, high food costs, poor housing and corruption - similar issues that fuelled the uprisings in other north African nations.

At least 12 people have set themselves alight in protest against the government since January, four of those dying.

Earlier this month, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the president, said he would lift emergency powers, address unemployment and allow democratic marches to take place in the country, in a bid to stave off unrest.

However, protests in Algiers remain banned.

Financial support

Bouteflika's attempt to appease protesters is just one of many undertaken by Arab governments concerned about spreading unrest in the region.

In Bahrain, the king offered each family $2,650 on Friday.

The small oil producer is considered the most vulnerable of the Gulf Arab countries to unrest, although seen as unlikely to fall in the same way as Tunisia and Egypt.

The Bahraini government has made several concessions in recent weeks, such as higher social spending and offering to release some minors arrested during a security crackdown against Shia groups last August.

The official Bahrain news agency released a report saying: "To praise the tenth anniversary of the National Action Charter and in recognition of the people of Bahrain.... His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ... will provide the amount of one thousand dinars for each family of Bahrain after adopting necessary legal procedures."

Activists have called for protests on February 14, the tenth anniversary of Bahrain's constitution, but it is not yet clear how widespread they will be.

Source: Agencies