Algeria’s ruling FLN declared winner of election, Islamists lose ground

A woman casts her ballot during parliamentary elections at a polling station in the Berber region of Issers, east of Algiers. (Reuters)

Algeria on Friday declared its ruling party since independence winner of a parliamentary election.

Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia, reading the results of Thursday’s vote at a news conference, said the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) had 220 seats in the 462-seat parliament.

The RND party of Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia was in second place with 68 seats, and the moderate Islamist Green Algeria alliance was third with 48, the minister said.

Algeria’s moderate Islamists warned that the legislative poll results were fraudulent and dangerous for the country.

“It exposes the people to dangers for which we do not want to take responsibility,” the Green Algeria alliance said in a statement, warning it would hold President Bouteflika responsible.

Earlier on Friday, Al Arabiya correspondent reported from the capital Algiers that Algeria’s ruling FNL has won the biggest share of seats in parliament.

FNL leader Abdelaziz Belkhadem told Al Arabiya that preliminary results show his party has won 189 seats in the 462-member parliament.

Officials from the Islamist “Green Alliance” of three parties expect to take slightly less.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s FLN, the former single party, and its two government allies, including the country’s main legal Islamist party, had expressed confidence of victory prior to the election.

The Algerian government announced a turnout of 42.9 percent in legislative polls Thursday that comfortably surpassed the figure for the previous election despite ever deeper voter disaffection.

“Global turnout, national territory and diaspora combined, stands at 42.9 percent,” Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia told reporters. Turnout hit a record low of 35 percent in polls in 2007.

Algeria’s rulers responded to the upheavals in neighboring countries by promising its own people an “Algerian Spring” - a managed process of reform, with the election as the first step.

But many believe real power lies with an informal network commonly known by the French term “le pouvoir,” or “the power,” which is unelected, has been around for years and has its roots in the security forces. Officials deny this network exists.

Yacine Zaid, a human rights activist and opponent of the ruling elite, said he thought the election was “a masquerade, a circus. ... The authorities have always dared to do what they want, to give whatever figures are in their head.”

However, there is little appetite for a revolt. Energy revenues have lifted living standards and people look with alarm at the bloodshed in neighboring Libya after its insurrection.

In Algeria, a conflict in the 1990s between security forces and Islamist insurgents, which killed an estimated 200,000 people, still casts a shadow. The fighting started after the military-backed government annulled an election which hardline Islamists were poised to win.

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