By Ria Novosti
The United States called on the Algerian authorities on Sunday to respect human rights and show restraint amid anti-government protests, the State Department spokesman said in a statement.
“We note the ongoing protests in Algeria, and call for restraint on the part of the security services,” Philip Crowley said.
“We reaffirm our support for the universal rights of the Algerian people, including assembly and expression,” he said adding: “These rights must be respected.”
Over 400 protesters were arrested by police on Saturday at a mass rally in the capital, Algiers. The protesters, inspired by the recent anti-government demonstrations in Egypt, demanded the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has led the country since 1999.
Some 10,000 protesters gathered at the rally, calling to end corruption, lift the 19-year-old state of emergency and release protesters from jails. Some 28,000 police were deployed to prevent violence. Several people were injured.
Algeria saw similar rallies in January during which several people were held by police and 12 participants were hospitalized.
After that the president pledged to lift the state of emergency in the “very near future” and provide more political freedoms. However, the Algerian leader has so far failed to go ahead with the promised measures.
Earlier on Sunday, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek called on Algerian authorities to refrain from violence, immediately release the protesters and respect freedom of assembly.