Algeria PM: state of emergency gone by month's end

Algeria's prime minister says a state of emergency in place for 19 years will be lifted by the end of this month.

The government has insisted so far that the state of emergency was a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism, but critics charge that recently it has been used to muzzle the political opposition by banning marches.

Ahmed Ouyahia said Wednesday Algeria "cannot ignore events taking place in Arab and Islamic countries," referring to uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and in Egypt that ended ousted those countries' autocratic leaders.

Sporadic demonstrations and strikes have also hit Algeria in recent weeks.

Though the state of emergency bans public protests in the capital, Algiers, thousands of people took part in a pro-reform rally there last week. Organizers promised another this weekend.