Pro-president party prevails in Algerian election
June 6, 1997
Web posted at: 11:18 a.m. EDT (1518 GMT)
ALGIERS, Algeria (CNN) -- Algeria's pro-president party,
formed only two months ago, swept to victory in the nation's
first parliamentary elections since a Muslim insurgency began
five years ago, results showed Friday.
The Thursday voting was relatively calm, but opposition
parties cried fraud.
According to Interior Ministry figures, President Liamine
Zeroual's National Democratic Rally won 155 of the National
Assembly's 380 seats. The pro-government and former ruling
party National Liberation Front took 64 seats.
Interior Minister Mustapha Benmansour hailed the results as a
building block for strengthening democracy in Africa's second
"This historic vote ... is an enormous progress and a great
victory dedicated to the nation and future generations to
build and strengthen democracy and the state of law,"
Benmansour said during a post-election news conference.
The Movement for a Society of Peace, a moderate Islamic
party, won 69 seats. Several other parties split a few dozen
Zeroual had been widely expected to win Thursday's election,
and sought a mandate for his struggle to crush the Muslim
insurgency that has left 60,000 people dead.
The Islamic rebellion began after the military regime
canceled legislative elections in 1992 when an Islamic
fundamentalist party, the Islamic Salvation Front, appeared
on the verge of winning.
The now-outlawed Islamic Salvation Front called for a boycott
and sought to intimidate voters ahead of the balloting.
Final results showed a 65.5 percent turnout, more than nine
points lower than when Zeroual, a retired army general first
appointed president, was elected president in 1995.
The lowest turnout Thursday was in the capital Algiers -- 44
percent -- which has been battered by years of violence,
including recent bombings that killed 22 people and wounded
more than 100 others.
Even before results were announced, opposition parties were
complaining that non-existent votes were cast in the
government's favor and that observers were not given free
access to voting stations.
The Movement for a Society of Peace party filed complaints
for nearly 400 cases of election fraud and expected to file
more. The party alleged officials tampered with so-called
"itinerant polling stations" used to gather votes from the
Hocine Ait-Ahmed, an opposition leader for a center-left
party, said "the elections were neither free nor honest," in
an interview to be published Saturday in France's Le Croix
At least two other opposition parties announced their
intentions to file complaints about voting irregularities.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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