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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Low turnout in Algeria elections
Voter in Algiers
Voter turnout was estimated to be very low at about 30%
Algeria's parliamentary elections have passed off peacefully despite fears of a renewed radical Islamist campaign sparked by a recent spate of bombings.

Turnout was low but correspondents in Algiers say this is not surprising as the real power lies with the president, the army and the intelligence services.

The poll to elect 389 members of parliament is only the third multi-party vote in Algeria's history.

About 150,000 Algerians died in the war that followed cancelled polls in 1992.

The BBC's Richard Hamilton in Algiers says achieving a peaceful election in Algeria is no mean feat.

High security around polling stations ensured that voting passed off without much incident even though only about a third of the 18.7m eligible voters turned out.

Algeria map

The biggest fear was that the organisation calling itself al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb would derail the political process and send Algeria back to the bloodiest days of the civil war in the 1990s, our correspondent says.

Those fears were heightened last month when the group said it carried out suicide bombings in the capital that killed 33 people and injured more than 200.

In a bomb attack on the eve of voting, one man was killed and five people injured in the city of Constantine.

The interior minister said the blast was an "act of sabotage" against the Algerian democratic system.

Islamists banned

Results are expected on Friday of the vote, in which more than 20 political parties took part.

The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which used to have massive popular support, was banned in 1992 when it was poised to win a general election and has not been allowed back into the political fold.

Our reporter says that without the group's participation, power will remain where it has done with the president and the military.

The main political group linked to the Berber-speaking areas in the north-east boycotted the polls.

The election will not change the political landscape, our correspondent says, but is important as it shows Algerians value the ballot box more than the bullet or the bomb.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika launched a programme of national reconciliation in 2005, following years of a violent Islamist insurgency.


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