Algeria sent thousands of riot police into place around the capital Algiers Saturday fearing a large anti-government rally a day after demonstrations forced Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Security forces closed all entrances to the capital and began arresting people Saturday morning.
Countries in North Africa and the Middle East have seen a number of protests and political rallies calling for reform and an end to high unemployment, low wages and corruption. The calls for reform were fueled by last month's overthrowing of Tunisian leader Zine El authorities Ben Ali.
Algerian authorities fear the overthrowing of both Ben Ali and Mubarak will lead to stronger calls for reform at home. Police stopped people from celebrating Mubarak's resignation Friday, reports the BBC.
Algeria has had a state of emergency in place since 1992 and bans all demonstrations. However, in early February President Abdelaziz Bouteflika reportedly promised to lift the state of emergency soon.
The Independent reports that the deployment of riot police dissuaded many protesters from joining the rally.
"I am sorry to say the government has deployed a huge force to prevent a peaceful march. This is not good for Algeria's image," Mustafa Bouachichi, a leader of the League for Human Rights, told the Independent.
Algeria is a major oil and gas exporter and widespread unrest could deeply impact the world economy.
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