Algeria's 19-year-long state of emergency will be lifted "in the very near future", President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (pictured) said on Thursday. The move comes amid mounting pressure from opponents inspired by events in Egypt and Tunisia.
REUTERS - Algeria's state of emergency, in force for the past 19 years, will be lifted in the very near future, official media quoted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as saying on Thursday.
The announcement followed pressure from government opponents, some of them inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, who demanded the emergency powers be scrapped and are planning a protest in the capital on Feb. 12.
The government had said it needed the extra powers under the state of emergency to fight Islamist insurgents linked to al Qaeda. The violence has abated in the past few years, sparking public debate about whether those powers are still justified.
A former French colony of about 35 million people, Algeria is a major exporter of oil and gas.
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The lifting of the state of emergency will happen "in the very near future," Algeria's official APS news agency quoted Bouteflika as telling a meeting with ministers.
"In order to stop any unfounded speculation on this subject, I ordered the government to immediately draw up appropriate provisions which will allow the state to continue the fight against terrorism until its conclusion, and with the same effectiveness," the agency quoted him as saying.
Bouteflika said protest marches, banned under the state of emergency, would be permitted everywhere except the capital.
"The capital is an exception in this respect for well-known reasons of public order and certainly not in order to prevent any form of expression," he said.
Bouteflika also said the government should adopt new measures to promote job creation, and that Algerian television and radio, which are controlled by the state, should give airtime to all political parties, the official APS news agency reported.
But he said: "Political parties and registered national organisations must in particular take account of the provisions of the constitution and laws on political activities."
"Freedom should not end in a situation where you have things sliding out of control or anarchy, which have already cost Algeria dear."