30,000 Community Guards Form Algeria Protest Camp
After last week’s protest march [French] by Algerian community guards demanding raises and better benefits, 30,000 demonstrators have returned to the city of Blida to form a protest camp. The guards have come from a dozen different provinces, and more are expected to join the camp in the coming days. During a meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, group leaders will decide on the next phase of the protests, which are expected to include a return to Algiers to press authorities for reform.
Also, Algeria’s Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci confirmed [French] that three of seven diplomats kidnapped in Mali have been freed, but did not elaborate on the terms of their release. Mali’s Unity Movement for Jihad in West Africa, a rebel Islamist group, took the hostages and demanded 15 million euros for the release of the hostages. The fate of the other four diplomats was withheld by the Foreign Ministry.
Additionally, in neighboring Morocco, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane retained [French] his position as head of Morocco’s ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD). Benkirane unsurprisingly received 85% of the vote at the party’s annual conference in Rabat Sunday, reflecting his high popularity among those who credit him with leading the PFD to power. In his acceptance speech, Benkirane promised to continue pressing for reforms while also calling for increased Maghreb cooperation, particularly with Algeria.