Algeria state of emergency: Bouteflika 'signals end'

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. File photo President Bouteflika reportedly made the announcement at a government meeting in Algiers

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Algeria's state of emergency will be lifted in the "very near future", President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is quoted as saying by local media.

However, it remains unclear when the emergency laws - imposed in 1992 - will be repealed.

The announcement follows 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.

'Airtime to opponents'
Anti-government demonstration in Algiers (22 January 2011) Several protesters were injured during protests in Algeria earlier this month

Mr Bouteflika made the announcement at a meeting with government ministers in the capital Algiers, the country's state-run media said. 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 currently banned in Algeria which endured a brutal conflict with Islamists in the 1990s.

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

The president's 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.

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