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Algeria vs democracy
The Algerian war

  • (May 2002) Algeria vs democracy The National Liberation Front (FLN), under the leadership of prime minister Ali Benflis, won the majority in the May 2002 parliamentary elections. The FLN has held power in Algeria ever since Algeria became independent.
    Despite widespread electoral fraud in 1997 and 1999, Algeria is one of the few Arab countries in which people can actually cast a vote (votes are not necessarily counted, but it's a beginning). In 1997 the winner was the National Democratic Rally (RND), president Zeroual's party, followed by the FLN. In 1999 Abdelaziz Bouteflika (leader of the FLN) was elected president (after all other candidates withdrew or were disqualified from the elections). Opposition leaders claim that both elections were flawed, and they are probably right. To protest those "flaws", opposition parties did not participate in this latest election. Neither did the Berbers of the Kabylie province (which are to Algeria what the the Palestinians are to Israel, except they don't blow up civilians).
    150,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 1992, when civil war was triggered by a military coup that canceled the parliamentary elections won by the radical Islamist party (at the time, the West tacitly approved the suppression of democratic rule).
    See the timeline for Algeria
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  • (December 1998) The Algerian war. The situation is quite simple. In 1992 the army invalidated the first democratic elections ever because the islamic party had won a clear majority. The western powers tacitly approved the move. The islamic "extremists" (aka, the winners of the elections) started a campaign of sabotage that quickly escalated as the army responded. Since the rebel movement enjoys the support of vast sectors of the population, the army has not been able to uproot it and it has resorted to a campaign of massacres. Each massacre is attributed to the islamic extremists, even when the victims are their own supporters.

    (By 1999 this conflict will cause the death of 100,000 people. In 1999 the new government of Abdelaziz Buteflika released 1100 dissidents, arrested 22 corrupt politicians and indicted generals who have ruled Algeria with dubious means).

    (In 2000 the conflict still caused 2,700 deaths).
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    A timeline of Algeria

    1834: France annexes Algeria
    1945: Several thousand Algerians are killed during pro-independence riots in Constantine
    1954: Algerian exiles in Egypt create the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) and start the civil war
    1956: Algerian freedom fighter Ben Bella is arrested by French police
    1959: DeGaulle grants Algeria the right to vote on independence
    1962: After the deaths of about 100,000 French and about 1,000,000 Algerians, Algeria is declared independent
    1962: Ben Bella, released from French prison, returns to Algeria and becomes its first president
    1965: Houari Boumedienne seizes power in Algeria and keeps Ben Bella under house arrests for 15 years
    1976: Algeria is declared a socialist state
    1978: Boumedienne dies and is replaced by Benjedid Chadly as president of Algeria
    1980: Berbers demonstrate against Arab domination in Algeria ("Spring of Kabyle")
    1988: Anti-government riots in Algiers
    1990: The Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) defeats the FLN by a large margin of votes in several local elections in Algeria
    1992: The Algerian army cancels national elections won by the FIS and seizes power, while Islamic radicals of the Arme` Islamique du Salut (AIS), the military wing of the FIS, begin a guerrilla campaign
    1993: A group of of Algerian "Afghans" (Islamic fighters who received their military training in Afghanistan) form the Group Islamique Arme` (GIA) with the mission to exterminate all infidels (basically Jews and Christians)
    1994: Liamine Zeroual is appointed Algerian president by the army
    1996: All religious parties are outlawed from future Algerian elections
    1997: The GIA becomes the main rebel group fighting the Algerian government
    1999: Abdelaziz Bouteflika is elected president of Algeria after all other candidates withdraw or are disuqalified
    1999: The GIA and the AIS approve peace talks with the Algerian government
    2002: The FLN wins national elections boycotted by all opposition parties
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