Friday, September 17, 1999 Published at 20:40 GMT 21:40 UK
Algerian vote 'victory for peace'
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has told Algerians that the results of the referendum were an important victory for peace.
Speaking on Algerian TV following the referendum in which he received overwhelming support for his moves to promote reconciliation, Mr Bouteflika said the result was "in the interests of all Algerians".
The president called on the country to work together to create a better future in Algeria, where an estimated 100,000 people have been killed in seven years of civil strife.
"We must work to bring the day closer when we pass beyond mere hope, when our tears dry once and for all and when our children smile again," he said.
"I again appeal to them formally today to think again. The law is tolerant and the people, in their huge generosity, have granted them leniency," he said
The result has been welcomed by France - the former colonial power. Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said the vote reinforced the authority of President Bouteflika, who has promised drastic action to tackle the country's social and economic problems.
Algerian Interior Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said 98.63% of the voters in the national referendum had said "yes" to the question: "Do you agree with the steps by the President of the Republic towards civil concord?"
With the main points of the civil reconciliation plan already enacted - a partial amnesty for Islamic militants - the turnout was seen as crucial to the president's credibility.
In the Algiers Casbah, a stronghold of Islamic militancy, one veiled woman said: "I expect peace. Of course, I voted yes."
Shopkeeper Abdullah Assaba told the French news agency AFP: "I voted 'yes' because it's my future, it's the future of my children."
Correspondents say Mr Bouteflika saw the vote as an opportunity to regain credibility lost in the presidential poll in April, when all six other candidates withdrew, alleging that the army was plotting to rig the vote in his favour.
Under the law, those who have no blood on their hands will go free, though they may be put on probation for a period of time.
Those guilty of murder, rape or the placing of bombs will be prosecuted, but there will be no death penalty and no prison sentence longer than 20 years.
The rebels have until January to hand themselves in. After that, our correspondent says, the signs are that Mr Bouteflika will move against them mercilessly - armed, he hopes, with a clear display of public support.