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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 November, 2004, 10:43 GMT
Algeria proposes general amnesty
By Mohamed Arezki Himeur
BBC correspondent in Algiers

Algerian mourning at a graveyard
The conflict with Islamists has taken a huge toll
A general amnesty is being considered for Algerians implicated in violence and murder during the past 12 years.

The conflict between the government and Islamist militants has claimed at least 100,000 lives since it started in 1992.

But it now seems to have abated and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika believes the time is right to try to move to the next stage to bring peace to Algeria.

He was speaking during events to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the war of independence against France.

But the president said such a decision could not be taken by his government alone, despite his party's overwhelming victory in April's election.


He said that that vote does not give him a go-ahead to declare such a general amnesty.

He suggested that a referendum would be needed, because, according to the constitution, the people are sovereign and not parliament or the president.

The general amnesty is supposed to cover all those who have been implicated in the sectarian violence of the past decade, in this case not only the armed Islamists but also members of the security forces accused of torture, and summary executions.

There are also those involved in the disappearance of more than 7,000 Islamist prisoners, arrested during this period.

The families of the victims of both the Islamists and members of the security forces do not generally agree with each other - but they have found common ground over a possible amnesty.

Both sides say it is a travesty of justice.

President Bouteflika though, sees a general amnesty as being part of the country's path to dialogue that will eventually end the conflict with reconciliation.

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