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Algeria’s opposition protests new tax bill, turns parliament into battleground

Representatives of Algeria’s opposition parties yesterday protested inside parliament against a new finance bill which will increase the prices of domestic gasoline, diesel, gas and electricity as part of the country’s 2016 budget in the latest attempt to cope with a sharp decline in energy earnings, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.

The new bill divided the country’s lawmakers so much it has sparked an exchange of insults and brawls on the parliament floor.

Opposition lawmakers, including socialists, environmentalists and Islamists stormed the parliament building carrying banners that read “no to austerity”, “the division of Algeria”, and “no to starving the people”.

Solaimah Osmani, an MP from the ruling National Liberation Front party, described preventing the parliament speaker from opening the voting session as “political thuggery”.

“We condemn such outrageous practices… we must respect the majority opinion and we, as pro-government MPs, are responsible before the people for supporting the law.”

MP Ahmed Btaattash, of the opposing Socialist Forces party, told reporters that the opposition’s response is natural to the law which includes actions that will have a significant impact on the purchasing power of citizens.

The protesters said in a joint statement that the new law was drafted under pressure from corrupt businessmen and aims to starve the people with heavy taxes and fees and privatise the whole country.

The pro-government parties voted in favour of the new budget with a majority of 350 votes of 462 deputies.

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