Government opponents called for a mass protest march to demand democratic change and jobs, but most local residents so far stayed away and thousands of police in riot gear were moved to the capital to enforce a ban on the march.
“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,” said Mustafa Bouachichi, a leader of the League for Human Rights which is helping organise the protest.
The small knot of protesters on May 1 Square, near the centre of the city, shouted “Bouteflika Out!” — a reference to the Algerian president — and some waved copies of a newspaper front page with the headline “Mubarak has fallen!”
Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt for 30 years, resigned and fled Cairo last Friday.