40,000 Police Auxiliaries March on Algiers
Thousands of police auxiliaries marched in Algeria yesterday, demanding pay raises, better health insurance, and retirement after 15 years of active duty. Around 40,000 men set off from the city of Blida, walking 30 miles in the direction of the capital before being stopped [French] on the outskirts of Algiers by hundreds of riot police. Over 400 men were arrested during the confrontation with security forces. The auxiliaries, also known as “communal guards,” were created during the 1990s to bolster local police forces during the Algerian government’s struggle against Islamist groups. The communal guards want the same benefits as other policemen and troops, and will meet with the Ministry of the Interior today to discuss demands and begin a dialogue with the presidency.
Additionally, an Algerian appeals court has quashed a two-month prison sentence for libel imposed late last month on Fatma-Zohra Amara, a journalist. Reporters Without Borders remained critical of the decision however, as the court upheld Amara’s libel conviction and a 1,200 Euro fine for damages. Meanwhile, in Tunisia, the ruling Al Nahda party is set to hold its first conference in 24 years. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people are due to attend the opening of the three-day conference, including Hamas chief Khalid Mesha’al, Libya’s interim leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil, and a representative of Hezbollah.