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Vol 37 No 25

Published 13th December 1996


Algeria

Voting amid terror

The referendum is over, the generals are entrenched but the terror continues

Officially, the turnout was just under 80 per cent. The government claimed that, of those who voted, just over 85 per cent voted 'Yes'. Even the regime's closest European supporters doubted this triumphant claim. In Algeria, sceptical opposition leaders renewed their questioning not only of the referendum but of President Lamine Zeroual's victory in the presidential poll just over a year ago (AC Vol 37 No 17). Nevertheless, a number of foreign officials visited Algiers after the referendum, including Manuel Marin, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Commissioner in charge of Mediterranean policy. He was carefully guarded, in a country where dozens - and sometimes hundreds - of people die violently every week. The urbane Communications Minister, Mihoub Mihoubi, argues that 'terrorism' is almost defeated. Yet there are constant threats of attack by the Groupe Islamique Armé and other underground Islamist groups. In the first week of December, another bombing on the Paris underground railway was at once linked to the GIA.

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