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Algerian riots over food prices and unemployment

07/01/11 19:19 CET

Fresh rioting has broken out in the Algerian capital after a night of violence over food prices and unemployment.

Riot police have been deployed around mosques and football championship matches have been suspended.

“The solution is to let us go to Europe,” said one teenager. “Young people today either end up in prison or emigrate. The government is humiliating us, they are raising the price of sugar. We have to pay the rent, the electricity, water, sugar and oil, we are all poor.”

Three quarters of the population is under the age of 30, and 20 percent of them are unemployed.

There is also anger over claims of broken government promises, including the fact that only about 10,000 of one million promised new homes have been built.

Some basic consumer goods have also shot up in price by as much as 30 percent.

Adding to the the tension are rumours that the police plan to crackdown on illegal street sellers.

Economist Philippe Chalmin said: “It’s totally imaginable that given the tension, we are going to see over the next few months food riots, riots over poverty, riots over bad governance.”

Critics of the current president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, accuse his government of not listening to people’s concerns.

However, for now, observers say the riots are still far from dragging the country back to the kind of political upheaval of the late 80s and early 90s that caused 10 years of civil strife.

Shortly after riots broke out in Algiers on Wednesday, the trade minister announced that sugar and oil prices would soon be reduced.

The government had already announced an investment plan worth tens of billions of euros over the next four years to create jobs and improve living conditions.

But the protesters say they want more action and less words.

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