In the wake of protests that brought down both Tunisian and Egyptian leaders, demonstrators in Algeria and Yemen took to the streets demanding the resignation of their presidents over the weekend.
On Saturday an estimated 10,000 people took to the streets in Algeria’s capital Algiers, calling for Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.
Algeria has been functioning under a state of emergency since 1993, which prohibits protesting.
The protesters Saturday defied the government ban, and spokesman for the opposition party, Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), Mohsen Belabas, said protests will continue every Saturday “until the regime falls,” according to Le Monde.
Algerian police put the number of demonstrators Saturday at 1,500 and deployed an estimated 30,000 officers to curb the protests, AP reported.
Police tried to block demonstrators from reaching the capital, by setting up barricades, blocking streets, and stationing themselves along the march route, Al Arabiya reported.
Clashes broke out as expected and more than 400 people were arrested, according to a human rights activist cited by the report.
The former head of the Algerian Front of Socialist Forces party said this protest was essential for Algerians to overcome their fear of the repressive regime. "This demonstration is a success because it's been 10 years that people haven't been able to march in Algiers and there's a sort of psychological barrier," said Ali Rachedi, quoted by Al Arabiya. "The fear is gone," he said.
Protest organizers are calling for protests throughout the country next Saturday.
After Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down Friday, demonstrators in Yemen took to the streets Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
AFP reported that at least 130 protesters were detained in demonstrations in the capital Sana’a and the city of Taiz, Sunday. In Sana’a, armed police broke up a pro-democracy protest with 2,000 demonstrators, injuring one woman.
Human Rights Watch said it is concerned about the Yemeni government’s treatment of demonstrators.
The organization reported Saturday, that Friday’s protesters in Sana’a were attacked by “pro-government thugs” with Yemeni security forces assaulting demonstrators with clubs, daggers, and electroshock tasers.
Yemen’s ruling party, the General People Congress (GPC), reportedly provided pro-government demonstrators with food and tents in Al-Tahreer Square in Sana'a, according to Yemenonline.
The protests have caused Saleh to postpone a visit to the United States scheduled for later this month.
Earlier this month Saleh promised to step down when his term ends in 2013 but his promise did not, as hoped, prevent thousands of Yemenis from demonstrating against the regime on Feb. 3, which was nominated a “Day of Rage.”