[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 18:21 GMT
US pushes for fair Algerian poll
Mohamed Areski Himeur
BBC, Algeria

The United States is concerned at the lack of a level political playing field in the run-up to April's presidential election in Algeria, a senior official has said.

Mr Lorne Craner, an assistant secretary of state for human rights, said his government is concerned over reports of possible irregularities at the election.

President Bouteflika
President Bouteflika is yet to declare whether he will seek another term
Mr Craner also called for the lifting of the state of emergency which has been in place for some 10 years to counter an Islamist rebellion.

"This will be seen as a further step on the road to democracy and development in Algeria" he said.

Last November, the US secretary of State Colin Powell, called for an honest, fair and transparent election.

Free press

After his meeting with the presidential candidates and human rights campaigners, the US official also reacted to reports of harassment against journalists.

"If this harassment stops, it will contribute to the credibility of the election" Mr Craner said

He said opposition parties lacked access to official media.

Algerian television has been accused of paying little or no attention to the opposition while offering extended coverage of President Bouteflika's activities.

President Bouteflika is yet to confirm his candidature at the April elections.

Algeria's former Prime Minister, Ali Benflis, is running.

The ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) is split into two factions, one in support of Mr Benflis and another backing President Bouteflika.

The intervention of the US administration into what some might call the internal affairs of Algeria has been welcomed by some political parties and personalities who say that "the threatening eye of Washington" may have a positive influence on the fairness of the elections.




SEE ALSO:
Call for Algerian leader to go
05 Jan 04  |  Africa
Timeline: Algeria
03 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Algeria
08 Sep 03  |  Country profiles


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific