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Algeria

Yearbook 2011

Algeria. The Arab Spring also spread to Algeria, but the regime under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika retained control of the country with concessions, propaganda and police brutality. At least three people were killed in January when police, and even young civilians loyal to Bouteflika, turned down the first demonstrations in Algiers and other cities. During the spring, protests continued against high living costs and political repression. Hundreds of protesters were arrested.

Oppositionists in the left and the trade union movement formed in January a coalition, the CNCD (National Coordination for Change and Democracy), which called for the government and the president to be replaced by a transitional government that would propose a new constitution and organize democratic elections. In February, Islamists and nationalists formed a coalition with more modest reform demands.

According to Countryaah official site, Bouteflika responded by raising public salaries and subsidizing staple goods such as flour, milk, cooking oil and sugar, which was possible thanks to the high oil price which gave the state increased income. The regime launched its own programs and housing initiatives for young people. In some quarters, the police also received orders to overlook small crimes, such as unauthorized street sales. The state of emergency introduced in 1992 was revoked, but in Algeria demonstrations were still prohibited.

Bouteflika commissioned the parties in his alliance to propose constitutional amendments, he promised new electoral laws and he introduced a new press law which meant that private radio and TV channels were allowed and that journalists could no longer be imprisoned for defamation. He also sought increased support by selecting employees with ties to the opposition. The task of leading a national dialogue on reforms, for example, he gave to his former adviser General Mohammed Touati, with recesses among the Berbers, and to the former minister Ali Bourgazi, with links to the Islamists.

In August, Algeria granted refuge to the deposed Libyan leader Muammar al-Khadaffi's wife, daughter and two sons. The four, unlike al-Khadaffi himself, were not called for by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Algeria claimed to receive them with "hospitality", but the new leadership in Libya called the reception "an aggressive act". Citing Islamists' influence over the Libyan Transitional Council, Algeria also refrained from recognizing the Council as the government of Libya.

During the year, a number of clashes between security forces and militant Islamists within al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were reported. Dozens of deaths were required on both sides.

The subway in Algiers was inaugurated on November 1, 28 years after the first spade.

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