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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Bouteflika calls for Berber talks
Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Pic: Algerian TV)
Bouteflika won a landslide re-election victory on 8 April
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been sworn into a second term of office with a promise to devote himself to national reconciliation.

At his swearing-in ceremony, the president vowed to resolve the crisis in the Berber-dominated Kabylie region.

Mr Bouteflika received more than 80% of the vote at elections held earlier this month.

But the start of his five-year term comes against a background of violence involving Islamic militants.

Two soldiers are reported to have been killed on Saturday by roadside bombs near the Kabylie regional capital, Tizi Ouzou.

Seven other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Around 140 people are said to have been killed in Algeria since the start of this year.

Berber boycott

According to a BBC correspondent in the capital, Algiers, many Algerians said they voted for Mr Bouteflika because he had brought security to their country.

[Kabylie] cannot exist without Algeria and Algeria cannot be Algeria without this region
President Bouteflika
They approve of the amnesty he offered Islamic militants who surrendered and they appreciate his talk of national reconciliation.

But in some Berber regions voters boycotted the polls.

Police reportedly used tear gas to disperse protesters in the small town of Freha near Tizi Ouzou.

During the televised signing-in ceremony, the president called for renewed dialogue to resolve the Berber issue.

"We know their preoccupations, as this [Kabliye] region - as I expressed it more than once - cannot exist without Algeria and Algeria cannot be Algeria without this region," he said.

"Let us make sound judgment prevail over the existing problems and continue the dialogue which we started and which has begun to yield fruit."

Talks between the Berbers and the government broke down in February over the demand by Berber activists that the Tamazight language should have equal status with Arabic.

Women's rights

In his speech, the president also vowed to free women from the country's "family law".
Women queue to cast their ballot in Benthala, 30km (19 miles) south of Algiers
The 'family law' considers women to be minors throughout their lives

"Taboos remain to be overturned, especially in certain mentalities that do not manage to open up to modernity," he said.

The law, based on Islamic Sharia, puts women in a vulnerable position within the family.

Husbands are able to divorce their wives easily, and turn them out of the home, while it has been very difficult for women to get out of abusive relationships.


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