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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Will Algeria's vote bring peace?
Algerians voting in France
Algerians have overwhelmingly backed a referendum intended to put an end to the decade-long civil war which left over 100,000 dead.

More than 97% of voters backed a plan to grant amnesty to many Islamic militants, the interior minister said.

But opposition groups tried to boycott the referendum, saying it whitewashed previous crimes.

Can Algeria move on from its bloody past? Is reconciliation more important than justice? What is your experience of life in Algeria? Did you vote in the referendum?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The civil war has created an atmosphere of tension and mistrust
Firdaus, Singapore
Algerians have overwhelmingly voted for peace. They're sick of wars and Mr Bouteflika needs to implement the amnesty as soon as possible. Reconciliation is needed because the civil war has created an atmosphere of tension and mistrust. If each and every Algerian who committed an injustice during the war, seek forgiveness so that Algeria can move forward towards peace.
Firdaus, Singapore

Even if this referendum might seem to be a kind of gimmick, the more important is to successfully complete it and show outside the unity of the Algerians. If so, eventually Algeria will be more peaceful and less violent country.
Katori, Tokyo, Japan

Yes. Algeria has seen enough violence since last 30 years in and around the boundaries. Algerians are now fed up of the war and want peace.
Firozali A. Mulla, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania

I think the biggest challenge now for Bouteflika is to show us that he's right
Abdelkader, Algiers, Algeria
I think the biggest challenge now for Bouteflika is to show us that he's right and we're wrong. He had his 97% of 'Yes' let him bring peace as he promised.
Abdelkader, Algiers, Algeria

Having spent 10 years working in Algeria I hope this vote will really mean peace as the vast majority of Algerians are good people whose main priority in life is their families, they want peace and happiness for their children. I hope this will happen.
Keith, Dumfries, Scotland

I didn't vote, I wouldn't have known what vote to cast. I am torn as I can see the point of both sides and I know the situation is very complex with no perfect solution. I however believe that knowing the truth is very important for the people to move on, and most importantly understand why it got that bad. We need not repeat the mistakes of the past. Algerians have voted for a clear yes and that obviously shows that they want to turn the page. Let's hope peace will be achieved.
SE, London

Yes I did vote last Thursday at the Algerian consulate and I am sure that Algeria will going in the good best way as people really want to do so for Algeria.
Latif Belaloui, London

I think the yes vote can bring the peace so needed in Algeria. I am very optimist about the future and hope people stopped being negative.
Houari, London

The perpetrators of the atrocities could apologise and ask for forgiveness
Shoukat, London, UK
Part of the peace plan involves exempting the perpetrators (the army and rebels) of atrocities. This is clearly done to get the protagonists to accept the peace plan without reprisals. However, the victims and their families are denied justice and hence closure. The South African experience ('the truth commission') could be the way to achieve this. The perpetrators of the atrocities could apologise and ask for forgiveness while the promised financial compensation would go some way to make amends in material terms.
Shoukat, London, UK

I personally think that reconciliation is not the main issue behind the referendum; if there is one thing that characterises and distinguishes Algerians from others it is probably reconciliation, as it is in our blood and as we are quite spiritual. History is there to back this up. Peace will obviously prevail but the process needs time. Pacification will work in the same way that a deep wound heals. What I am more worried about is the tyranny and love of power - is Bouteflika really preaching reconciliation, does he really mean it? I doubt it but I hope time will prove me wrong!
Amar, Sheffield, UK

I hope this peace move will at last mean that I can go back to visit the town - Annaba - that I lived in from 1976-78 and that in many respects I learned to love. I left many friends behind, but I have not dared to return since 1988. I wish the Algerian people the best of luck.
Michael Ivy, Rome, Italy

I would not forgive nor forget those who have killed, I would not trust the government nor its hyper-idealistic opponents. Still I would have voted yes: Out of hope for us living now and the coming generations.
Ronald, Rotterdam

I voted no because this will not bring justice
Nouri, Constantine, Algeria
I voted no because this will not bring justice. It is not healthy to end a war this way. I lost too many people to the army and the militias to forgive them. We need justice and jobs, not lies and injustice. I want to know what happened to my uncles and cousins.
Nouri, Constantine, Algeria

I thought our leaders had already made the worst decisions possible but this one is definitely in the top 10. I'm convinced that Bouteflika is simply doing this to reinforce his power and to complete a deal he had arranged with the security services when they helped him fulfil his presidential aspirations. This move will weaken the state's institutions; reinforce an already dangerously powerful and narcissistic president and on top of everything I don't even think it will help end the violence.
Tony, London, UK

Algeria needs to start off with a new page to provide the nation with a proper democratic vote where the respective majority are given the rightful opportunity to set up government. After all, the government is chosen by the people to serve them, not the other way around!!
Esra Karatash Alpay, Istanbul, Turkey

Move on, people will say. Let the past be past and only by burying grief and hate a society can be rebuilt. That's true, but without making clear what's happened and why it happened, can we really move on?
Conlith Guan, Hong Kong

I did not vote and I will never vote again because voting in Algeria is a joke; this referendum clears the military and the government from their crimes against the Algerian people and does not recognize the source of the conflict. Those who cancelled the 1991 elections should be punished because they are the ones who started that bloody conflict and are responsible for the hundreds of thousands of souls that were lost. That is the only way there could be a real reconciliation.
Ahmed Arabi, NY, USA

I voted yes after considering carefully the two options. So yes: Total truth and justice will still have to wait after this referendum, but one day it will come I am sure. In the mean time, we have all suffered, we have all felt ashamed by this war. A 'yes' to the reconciliation plan would be an invitation to action for peace, while a 'no' victory would lead to a dead end, a political standstill on action for peace. I hope that the majority of Algerians voters will find the courage to push ahead for peace. A yes victory will be another step along the difficult road of building a peaceful, and democratic Algeria.
Mohand, London, UK

We Algerians cannot be fooled that easily: It is hard for us to forget that many terror groups were created by the generals to force the population into submission. Indeed, these groups never targeted the well-off supporters of the military. They always butchered the helpless poor in isolated villages. For this reason, the junta is called the mafia in Algeria. However, one has to admire the generals for the good choice of using Bouteflika as their front man: He is serving them rather well by taking them off the hook with his proposed charter. Already, it is forbidden by law to criticise the military in public. Many Algerian journalists have been thrown to jail for doing so; with the West conveniently looking the other way, as usual.
Salah Uddeen, Algeria/ France

I believe it was Ghandi who stated that if you want to change the world, start with the children. Ending the monstrous civil war which has provided a large stain in Algerian history will hopefully bring this country into a generation of peace. I firmly believe that the national situation of a country where children are raised can indeed determine the future of the country. Let us move from violence, and pave the way for harmony. However, I do believe that in granting amnesty to those involved in the conflict, the government must not set a dangerous precedent.
Aaron Hakim, Mississauga, Canada

Every body and mostly the Algerians, I think, hope that President's Bouteflika political project will succeed. However, the decolonisation was a failure as far as the people are concerned and considering the history and the sociology of post colonial Algeria, nothing allows to foresee any progress. Political Islam will open the gate of hope the day apostasy will be allowed, as it should be in any true democratic regime.
Raphael Grynpas, Brussels, Belgium

The referendum in Algeria is a needed compromise because it is a sign of forgiveness
Lucy Tama Sogoian, Los Angeles, USA
Having worked in Algeria for an international organisation over the past 10 years, I believe the referendum is a drastic measure. But that is what is needed because the complexity of the situation demands something extraordinary. In the end it is the people of Algeria who have suffered the most; the general populace. Therefore it is only right that they decide on amnesty for the insurgents; that they have the ability within themselves to forgive those who caused them so much pain and fear (not just from the GIA, but from the government and splinter insurgent groups as well). My opinion as to whether or not the violence will stop? No. Looking at world history, just in the last 100 years, the one thing we have proven it that humans are really good at being violent towards one another (kind of gives a whole new concept to the word "civilisation"). Whether labelled for "the greater good," "freedom," and/or in the name of God, or for personal gain/greed, there will always be some kind of violent acts somewhere in the world where humans gather and live. I believe, though, that the referendum in Algeria is a needed compromise because it is a sign of forgiveness - something that is rare in all cultures, especially those whose people are so passionate, so respectful of the past, and so spiritual. And because the Algerian referendum is a legal olive branch it can very well be the much needed first true step to peace in a country whose people have seen so much cruelty and so much sorrow.
Lucy Tama Sogoian, Los Angeles, USA

The first vote I made in my life was this one. Was hard, but I voted "yes" as I believe this will help the future for children of Algeria.
Ahmed, Liverpool

I voted yes, as I believe that this will give a new start to the Algerian nation. Although the chart seems more or less not complete and does not touch on all issues that need to be addressed, I am sure with time things will resolved slowly but surely. Algerians need hope and this is the right path.
Ahmed S, San Diego, USA

A yes vote will encourage impunity and people have to avoid to fall in the trap of politicians. By the way who is granting amnesty to who and why? Is it for the sake of peace? There has never been peace without justice or at least without the truth. Can the government give first a chance to the people who have lost theirs to know the truth about what happened to them before they think of such a political show?
Kapinga Ntumba, Harare, Zimbabwe

During the 1990s there was no state or government, terrorists had infiltrated every institution, there was no law and order, let alone democracy, so there is no way to have real investigation on disappearances and killings without tearing the Algerian people apart. I think this charter is the best way to go, I have voted yes and I hope the Algerians do too. Bouteflika has given dignity and honour back to Algeria and he has brought peace.
Adam, Washington, DC

The Algerian people have paid a heavy price for believing the Western myth of 'democracy for all'
Emir Abdelkader, London, UK
I will vote no. This amnesty is also meant to absolve the Western paymasters and supporters of the military junta of their crimes and double standard when it comes to fostering democracy in the Muslim world. It is clear that no Islamic parties will ever gain power through the ballot box, were it left to the West. The Algerian people have paid a heavy price for believing the Western myth of 'democracy for all'.
Emir Abdelkader, London, UK

A bold and courageous project like the National Reconciliation undoubtedly triggers all types of speculation and allegation. The reason for this lies in its very objective - that of peace and prosperity in Algeria. As long as this goal runs counter to the interests of many, comments like these will undoubtedly be heard. Algeria's past is indeed bloody, but only because the Algerian people do not kneel to brutality against them be it for colonial or extremist purposes. My vote is yes - it is a yes for a sound and prosperous Algerian society not for 'a mortal Bouteflika'.
Djazeiri, United Kingdom

The reason the majority of Algerians will (hopefully) vote yes is because Bouteflika's 1999 initiative has brought more peace to our country. People who criticize don't give an alternative, I read the press religiously, and have seen much criticism, sometimes without foundation, but have never read any editorial or heard an opposition party give an alternative. We have to remind ourselves that it is the people in the remote areas who have suffered the most from terrorism who are the most enthusiastic about the charter. The written press was open to all dissident voices and civil society groups found a way for their voices to be heard. All I know is that people who accuse the "regime" are still living in a fantasy world, the army's influence has been eradicated and our president was democratically re-elected. People who accuse Bouteflika of wanting to consolidate power forget that the army once controlled everything, at least he's a forward thinking civilian, and he's legitimate and legal. The reason I will vote yes like most Algerians is because I can now drive around anytime anywhere without being afraid of Islamists. There has been no better alternative and hopefully this will convince the last of terrorists to depose their arms.
Sabrina, Mostganam, Algeria

Algeria is one of the richest countries in Africa, but its people amongst the poorest
Kamel, Horsham, UK
Voting yes or no is not going to make any difference to the lives of Algerians. The true test is whether the authorities, and the president in the first place, are prepared to let Algerians govern themselves in a more open, transparent and democratic way. Algeria is one of the richest countries in Africa, but its people amongst the poorest: so where's all the money gone?
Kamel, Horsham, UK

In any vote (or referendum), you have the choice between yes and no, you need to hear from both parts, unfortunately in a country where the killers want the amnesty you only hear the voice of those who preach for the yes, the others are called by all names but not Algerian. Is this democracy? I will boycott the vote to add my voice to the silent majority who think that a crime should not go unpunished in both camps.
O Bentaleb, Algiers, Algeria

Will the referendum solve anything in Algeria, well I hope so, but considering the situation in Algeria, corruption is everywhere from the head of government to the bottom of the chain, referendum is an option to people who have the liberty to speak not to the people who are more worried about where the next meal might came from, where educated scholars are left without jobs and the country is lead with member of parliament that earn a huge amount of money a month considering they have no qualification of education in that respect to maintain that position, to make it worse these people are in charge of distributing the wealth of the nation, we can turn a blind eye all we want, but the truth is there to be seen, Algerians in general need to admit for once, we need to stop blaming our government for every single thing because corruption is a way of life in Algeria, we lost our values and we become money driving people but unlike other nation that put all their resources towards working together we tend to do exactly they opposite and try to destroy our beloved country.
Rachid, London

This referendum is the right step in the right direction
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
Regardless of who is at fault, it is time to leave the vagaries of the past behind and move on. This referendum is the right step in the right direction. It will begin the healing process and the society can now move on.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Had I lost a close friend or relative, I am not sure I will find it in me to forgive and forget, Mr Bouteflika is trying desperately to bring back peace to our dear country, and this, though very controversial and doubtful, seems to be the only way. I will vote yes.
Rachida, London

This referendum is undemocratic. There was no counter debate about it. The many groups of opposition were not given access to the mass media or allowed to organize rallies due to the emergency laws. A "No" vote is not worth being cast. Algeria needs a reconciliation but only after the truth! We don't want war criminals to come back after 10 years from the backdoor and be allowed to get into power
Mohamed, Linz, Austria

The current regime is responsible for most of the killings this is why it is seeking amnesty. It is a regime that has retained power by intimidation and corruption. I left that country because I don't see any sign of improvement. The same old dictatorial practice being recycled over and over. Justice is losing ground in Algeria and the world is watching.
K. Rimane, Montreal/Canada

I will vote No, not because I'm against any kind of mercy or to put an end to killing in Algeria, but because the Yes will make another president for life in Algeria which so far has been different from the other Arab countries where presidents take power and don't leave until death.
Moahmed, Algiers, Algeria

I am Algerian, I hope that it will be put an end to the bloody decade but I can't forgive those responsible. I can't and my vote will be "No"
MESSAAD, France





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