More protests in Yemen and Algeria

There were more anti-government protests in Algeria and Yemen yesterday.

In Yemen, about 2,500 students and opposition activists demonstrated at Sana'a University, calling for President Salih to go. Although recent demonstrations have increasingly focused on Salih's presidency, this seems to have been the first one aimed primarily at ending his 32-year rule. References to Tunisia were seen in some of the placards.

Police used tear gas and about 30 demonstrators were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

CNN says 1,500 members of the security forces were on hand and there was also a smaller counter-demonstration, presumably organised by the ruling party, calling for Salih to stay.

The website AlmasdarOnline has a series of pictures apparently taken during yesterday's protests. Separately, the website also reports that Tawakkol Karman, a human rights activist and chair of the Yemeni organisation, Women Journalists Without Chains, wasabducted last week by men in military uniform. The authorities have not confirmed her arrest but it is thought she is being held in the central prison. Ms Tawakkol was also briefly detained for questioning last October.

In Algiers, riot police clashed violently with demonstrators who were trying to hold a march in defiance of a ban on public gatherings. They prevented the marchers from leaving the headquarters of the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy party. AP reports:

Riot police, backed by a helicopter and crowd-control trucks, ringed the exit to ensure marchers couldn't leave the building — and striking those who tried to come out to take part. Outside, some young men waved the national flag and chanted "Assassin Power!"

"I am a prisoner in the party's headquarters," said Said Sadi, a former presidential candidate who leads the Rally for Culture and Democracy party (RCD), said through a megaphone from a balcony window.

Demonstrators shouted "Boutef out!" referring to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Mohamed Khendek, one of the party's 19 members of parliament, is quoted as saying: "They indeed stopped us from marching, but politically, we have succeeded in breaking the wall of fear."

The RCD is a secular party with strong Berber connections.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 23 Jan 2011.