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Algeria's Southern Unemployed Demand Oil Jobs

Geoff Porter, a veteran Algeria analyst with the North Africa Risk Consulting firm said the "unevenness" of past government investment programs have left a legacy of distrust in the south â¿¿ a region that also lacks the educational opportunities to produce the necessary skills for oil sector jobs.

Part of the problem, he added, is that the hydrocarbon industries don't require very much employment and there is little else going in these remote communities after the desert tourism industry dried up.

In attempt to curb the recent demonstrations, the government sent local parliamentarians, mostly from the ruling party, back to their towns in the south to hold meetings, but most of these were boycotted by the committees of the unemployed.

"The Algerian state has always had a policy of national investment and a great deal of money has been invested in the south, just like the other regions," said Mohammed Dhimi, one of the members of parliament from the south. "Perhaps the investments were not well thought-out or misdirected or didn't respond to the agricultural and industrial needs of the people."

"The protesters may sense that they have built up some momentum and that they are going to continue their protests until they see meaningful steps taken to deliver on the prime minister's promises," he said.

Belabes, the head of the unemployment committee, promised a new round of demonstrations in the coming days.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, about 30 chiefs of Algeria's Tuareg tribes, ethnically the same group that revolted against the government across the border in Mali, presented authorities with their own manifesto of demands, including more jobs, governorships, and high diplomatic positions for the nation's Tuaregs, reported the daily El Watan.

___

Paul Schemm reported from Rabat, Morocco. Associated Press reporter Karim Kebir contributed to this report from Algiers.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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