Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Saturday, February 13, 1999 Published at 02:12 GMT

World: Middle East

Algeria to go to polls

The army has long played a major role in Algerian life

Outgoing Algerian President Liamine Zeroual has set 15 April as the date for elections to determine his successor in a race that could see as many as 40 candidates vying for the post.

Mr Zeroual announced in September that he was cutting short his five-year mandate and would not be standing for re-election.

Responding to complaints from opposition leaders about the army's role in the country's politics, the Algerian president said he was "fully determined to fulfil special constitutional commitments" for a fair and transparent election. He added that he would "enforce the neutrality of all the state's institutions".

The army has been a significant force in Algerian politics since independence from France 37 years ago with Mr Zeroual himself a former Army general.

The country plunged into violence in 1992 after the army-led authorities cancelled the general election in which radical Islamists had taken a commanding lead.

More than 80,000 people are estimated to have since been killed.

Fair election

Mr Zeroual said political parties had sought guarantees from him for a fair election and that some had complained the "results were known in advance".

[ image: President Zeroual: Called for fairness and transparency]
President Zeroual: Called for fairness and transparency
But he said: "Following consultations with heads of the political parties, I have pledged to take additional measures to strengthen the legal procedures to ensure transparency and deal with all the candidates on an equal footing," he said.

The president also used his brief televised speech to remind all government officials ''of their constitutional and legal duties to uphold neutrality".

"No one, whoever he is, can give himself the right to speak on behalf of the country's institutions unless he is clearly authorised to do so."

The authorities have set up a special panel to oversee the polls, known as the Independent National Commission for Monitoring the Presidential Election (CNISEP). It will be headed by Mohamed Bedjaoui, president of the International Court of Justice at The Hague.


The Algerian president also urged his compatriots to turn out "massively" for the vote.

The final list of candidates is not yet known although around 40 Algerians have so far put themselves forward. Correspondents say only about 10 of these are likely to satisfy the necessary conditions to make the final ballot list.

Candidates already include former foreign ministers Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi and former prime ministers Mouloud Hamrouche, Sid Ahmed Ghozali, Redha Malek and Mokdad Sifi.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

11 Sep 98 | Middle East
Algeria president springs suprise

12 Sep 98 | Middle East
Why did Zeroual go?

13 Feb 99 | Middle East
Algeria: can UN make a difference?

13 Mar 98 | Despatches
Algeria - a nation growing in fear

22 Jul 98 | Middle East
Only Arabic for Algeria

06 Jan 98 | Briefings
Murk and mayhem obscure injustice in Algeria

Internet Links

World Algeria Action Coalition

Algeria Info

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Iraq oil-for-food aid extended

Israel demands soccer sex scandal inquiry

Israeli PM's plane in accident

Jordan police stop trades unionists prayers

New Israeli raid in southern Lebanon

New demand over PLO terror list

Earthquake hits Iran

New UN decision on Iraq approved

Algerian president pledges reform