Algeria doctors, militias, students push on with demos

Algiers — Auxiliary police, specialist doctors and university students pushed on with strikes and demonstrations in Algeria on Monday to press demands including for improved pay and conditions.

Several members of the security militia spent the night at Martyrs Square in the capital and said they would not leave until President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had answered demands issued at a major rally last month.

"For the moment it's the status quo and we have still had no contact with the president's office," one of their spokesmen, Hakim Chaib, told AFP.

The force was created during the anti-Islamist war of the 1990s to 2005 and numbers about 94,000 men.

They are demanding increases in pay and pensions, integration into the regular security forces and the rehiring of colleagues who have been laid off.

Specialist doctors in hospitals meanwhile planned sit-ins on Monday in teaching hospitals, according to spokesman Amine Benhabib, as part of an open-ended strike started two weeks ago.

They also expected a meeting with the Health Ministry, he told AFP. "We're currently only at the stage of talks," added Benhabib, an orthopaedic doctor.

Among their demands is an end to obligatory work periods of between one and four years in remote regions on completion of their studies.

Court clerks, who staged a protest several weeks ago, returned to the fray on Monday, launching an unlimited strike to obtain higher pay and their attachment to the justice ministry rather than the civil service, media reports said.

In the civil service itself, the main union said it had declared a strike in all public departments on Wednesday, again to protest pay and conditions.

Students at universities across Algeria continued to skip classes in a protest that started in February to demand parity between old and new degrees delivered by the higher education authorities.

Algeria is one of the countries that has seen several demonstrations in a wave of protests across the Arab World this year.

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