5 Feb 2011

State of emergency to be lifted in Algeria

6:11 am on 5 February 2011

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria is reported as saying a state of emergency there will be lifted in the "very near future". It has been in force since 1992.

However, the BBC reports that it remains unclear when the emergency laws will be repealed.

The announcement followed demands by opposition groups, who have been calling for anti-government protests.

Algeria - like other countries in the region - has recently witnessed demonstrations for greater freedoms. There have also been riots over rising food prices.

State media said Mr Bouteflika made the announcement at a meeting with government ministers in the capital Algiers. He said protests would be allowed everywhere in the country except in the capital.

The president said the state of emergency had been imposed "for the only purposes of the fight against terrorism, and it is this reason only which has justified maintaining it on a legal basis".

Public demonstrations are banned in Algeria.

During Thursday's meeting, Mr Bouteflika also reportedly urged the cabinet to adopt measures to promote job creation and said TV and radio should give airtime to all political parties.

The BBC reports the announcement follows growing pressure from the country's opposition groups, some of whom have been inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

The opposition has reportedly been planning to hold a protest march in Algiers next week.