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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Algeria's Berbers reject president's offer
Members of the Algerian police force
The demands included legal action against police
By BBC North Africa correspondent David Bamford

Leaders of the ethnic Berber movement in Algeria have rejected an offer by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to formally receive their list of 15 demands.

They say they intend to go ahead with a mass rally that is likely to lead to a major confrontation.

Berber representatives meeting in the Kabylie regional capital of Tizi Ouzou said it was too late for the government to be making such an offer after five months of confrontation in which at least 80 people have died and hundreds have been injured.

The 15 demands were ostensibly aimed at bringing an end to the destabilizing campaign against the Arab-dominated government.

'National reconciliation'

The demands included legal action against police involved in killing Berber civilians, an economic plan to end social deprivation in Kabylie and recognition by the state of the Berber language and culture.

President Bouteflika said that with the imminent international war against terrorism in which Algeria will be playing a full part, now was the time for national reconciliation.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Berber leaders says the president's offer comes too late
But a Berber spokesman said that they had already gone to the government in good faith on three occasions to present their demands and been rejected each time.

Only a positive response to the demands would now be sufficient, he said.

The Berbers decided to go ahead with a mass demonstration in the capital, Algiers, on 5 October - the anniversary of the bread riots in 1988 that led to the collapse of the one-party system.

With demonstrations banned in Algiers since June, when the last big Berber rally there attracted nearly a million people and degenerated into violence, the government may find it hard to stave off a confrontation.

algerian timeline puffobx
See also:

24 Sep 01 | Middle East
Algeria hears Berber demands
13 Aug 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Can the Berber revolt survive?
20 Aug 01 | Middle East
Berbers march for their rights
08 Aug 01 | Middle East
Police move to block Berber march
19 Jun 01 | Middle East
Rising tide of Berber unrest
01 May 01 | Middle East
Berbers battle for recognition
28 Jun 98 | Middle East
The Berbers: fighting on two fronts
20 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Algeria
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