Anti-government protesters have been attacked in the Algerian capital and an attempt made to lynch a prominent opposition politician, local media have said.
The reports said that protests organised by the National Co-ordination for Democracy and Change (CNDC) in Algiers were violently suppressed on Saturday morning.
According to the the Algerian daily newspaper El Watan, a group of youths tried to lynch Said Sadi, the president of the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD).
Dozens of youths wearing banners supporting Abdelaziz Bouteflicka, the Algerian president, forced Sadi to flee in his car after they threatened to kill him in the al-Madania neighbourhood of Algiers, the publication said.
The CNDC is an umbrella group that was founded in January in the wake of riots that killed five people and wounded over 800.
Other recent protests in Algeria have been violently supressed by security forces. The CNDC has lost support from other opposition groups, which argue Sadi has exploited them for personal political gain.
Algeria recently repealed its controversial state of emergency, but public protest remains banned.
Meanwhile, Algeria’s oldest opposition party has urged Algerians to engage in a “peaceful struggle” for change in the nation a day ahead of a planned anti-government demonstration in the capital.
Distancing itself from the protests organised by the CNDC, the Socialist Forces Front (FFS) focused on its historic pan-Maghreb roots, expressing solidarity with similar struggles in neighbouring Tunisia, Morocco and Libya.
“We need a peaceful struggle every day. It’s this civic exercise that … will bring change,” Karim Tabbou, the first secretary of the FFS, told a gathering of about 3,000 people in Algiers.
“We will not get caught in confrontation and violence,” he added, speaking in a room decorated with portraits of Hocine Ait-Ahmed, the party’s leader.Follow news on Algeria by visiting our special page
Ait-Ahmed, 84, was one of the earliest leaders of the struggle against French colonial rule.
Those present at the meeting called for the creation of a new pan-North African group “Maghreb for the people” as opposed to the now-defunct Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), founded in 1989 by Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia.
“Neither Morocco or Algeria will be exceptions [to the wave of uprisings] change is inevitable,” declared Mustapha Labraimi of the Moroccan Party for Progress and Socialism (PPS).
The UMA broke down in 1994 due to political differences among its members and the longrunning conflict between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara.
Mustapha Bouchachi, the president of the Algerian Human Rights League, called for more freedom after years of civil strife.
“People the world over deserve to enjoy freedom and democracy, but I don’t know of another people which has sacrificed so much to fight for its freedom and obtain its independence,” he said.