ALGERIA - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for 12 years, has promised to amend the constitution to "strengthen democracy".Bouteflika's speech was a response to unrest that broke out in January with strikes, marches and rioting echoing protests elsewhere in the Arab world. Earlier, in February, Bouteflika, who is 74 and not in good health, lifted the country's state of emergency.
The current constitution, adopted in 1996, was introduced to strengthen presidential law and ban religion-based parties following Algeria's murderous war between the military and Islamist militants, in which some 150,000 people were killed.
Bouteflika announced that a commisisson will be formed consisting of experts and active political forces to adopt a new constitution, the newspaper Al-Watan reported. Also he announced that the laws concering the formation of political parties would be revised, as well as the laws concerning the electoral process, in order to make it more 'transparant'.
SYRIA again has witnessed numerous protests for reforms or agains the rule of president Assad On Friday thousands took to the streets in the capital Damascus. Security used teargas and batons to disperse the demonstration. Thousands of others were reported to have demonstrated in a number of other Syrian cities, including Deraa, Latakia, Baniyas and Qamishli - places where violence has been previously reported.The protesters called for reforms, while some demanded the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad. The protests, in Damascus and other cities, are believed to be the largest in a month of unrest in which about 200 people have been reported killed.
State media reported that "small demonstrations" had taken place in different parts of the country and security forces did not intervene. Mr Assad has promised to make some concessions while cracking down on dissent.
JORDAN - Dozens of people have been injured as ultra-conservative Salafist Muslims clashed with pro-government supporters in Jordan's northern city of Zarqa.The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds, a police spokesman said. Six officers were stabbed and 34 others injured in the clashes, he added.
Meanwhile, up to 1,000 people protested in the capital Amman, calling for political and economic reform.
The Salafists have been demonstrating over the past few weeks to demand the release of 90 Islamist prisoners.They include Abu Mohammed al-Maqdessi, the former mentor of slain al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was born in Zarqa.