Algeria’s PM pledges to act on police demands

Hundreds of officers end protest after talks with PM resolve some of their demands over working conditions and security.

The protests in Algiers started on Tuesday when hundreds of officers marched through the streets [Getty Images]

Algeria’s prime minister has said the government will meet this weekend to address the outstanding demands of hundreds of policemen who staged a three-day sit-in outside the president’s office in Algiers demanding better working conditions.

“The government will meet next Sunday to address their demands, particularly the finance related ones,” Prime Minister Adelmalek Sellal said after talks with a delegation of police on Thursday. “We have already resolved 11 demands.”

Protesting police left President Abdelaziz Boueflika’s compound in the capital after the discussions, witnesses at the scene said.

The demonstrations started on Tuesday when hundreds of officers marched through the streets in solidarity with colleagues near the southern city of Ghardaia, after officers there were injured in clashes between Arabs and Berbers.

Chanting for the police chief to step down and singing the national anthem, officers in dark blue uniforms packed into the entrance of the presidential compound.

More officers also took to the streets in the cities of Khenchela and Oran, a source said.

State news agency APS said also among their demands were better pay, working conditions and also public housing for their families.

The protests were unlikely to cause any wider security fallout for the OPEC country, with Algerians wary of turmoil or political upheaval after a war in the 1990s between the military and rebels that killed 200,000 people.

The security forces are still battling remnants of al-Qaeda-linked groups and since the 2011 uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, have been under pressure to contain any social unrest in their country.

Ghardaia, about 600 km from Algiers, is home to both Arabs and the Mozabite Berber community, which speaks its own language and follows its own school of Islam.

Riots between Arabs and Berbers broke out on Monday between the two communities near the desert town, with two people killed, and shops set on fire.

Officers in the region then staged marches to protest against working conditions and having to deal with the violence.

The area has often been the scene of clashes over jobs, houses and land.

Source: News Agencies