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Algeria's President Announces Democratic Reforms

People congregate around a large TV screen showing Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers, April 15, 2011

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced plans to change the country's electoral laws and to revise the constitution as he faces growing pressure from a pro-democracy movement in the country.

In a televised address Friday, Bouteflika said he would take measures to ensure free and fair elections, in the interest of strengthening democratic conditions.

He also said he would appoint a committee of experts and to propose changes to the constitution that he says will be "in compliance with the fundamental values of our society." The reforms will have to be approved by parliament or by referendum.

Over the past few months, Algerian protesters have demanded democratic reforms. In a concession to the opposition, President Bouteflika lifted a 19-year-old state of emergency in February.

On Tuesday, thousands of demonstrators - mostly students - marched toward the presidential palace in Algiers. News reports say some demanded the resignation of the education minister Rashid Hawarbia while others chanted anti-government slogans.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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