At least 40 people including 22 riot police members were seriously
injured in clashes which erupted Wednesday in the city of Ouargla
in southern Algeria, while protestors were demonstrating against
“housing the poor.”
Witnesses said a number of protesters were wounded when police
fired rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse them.
In turn, members of the riot police
had stones hurled at them by protesters as they tried to break up
the demonstration, Al Arabiya reported.
Protesters were also seen setting
fire to car tires and blocking roads.
The distribution of free apartments,
which has been granted by the authorities to the poor and
low-income families in Algeria, has led to a new wave of angst.
This comes after unemployed youths
in Algeria’s southern states, which are rich in oil and gas, took
to the streets.
Protests in Ouargla were questioning the transparency of the
apartment distribution process, as the government released a list
of people who were eligible.
Rashid Chouikh, the editor in chief of “al-Jadid” newspaper in
southern Algeria, told Al Arabiya that “the protests in the city
of Ouargla brought together neighborhoods in its surrounding
Two days before Ouargla’s protests,
violence broke out in the Constantine Province for the same
reason. Algerian authorities are now worried about a wave of angry
The chairman of the National
Committee for the Unemployed Taher Belabbas said, “The cause
behind the protests in the city of Ouargla is the false promises
made by the government about housing the poor, employing the
unemployed, and solving the problems around development in the
Southern region in general”.
Mohamed Hadibi, spokesman of the
Islamic Renaissance Movement told Al Arabiya that “similar to what
happens before every political event, authorities seek to offer
‘social bribes’ to people, to license their political projects”.
The head of the New Generation Party who is against the extension
of Abdelaziz Bouteflika fourth term echoed this statement when he
told Al Arabiya that he was “informed that the government gave
orders to the States governors to start the apartment
distribution, months before announcing a draft project which looks
to amend the Constitution, and less than a year before the next
This is the last year of President
Abdelaziz Bouteflika three years in office. The constitutional
amendment is scheduled to take place by the end of this year and
the presidential election is set for April 2014.