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Algerian parties pressure government over alleged election fraud

November 24, 1997

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ With anger mounting over alleged election fraud, Algerian lawmakers urged the government Monday to investigate their accusations that security forces harassed voters during last month’s election.

Government opponents have held a series of protests since the Oct. 23 election won by pro-government parties, including the largest demonstration in Algeria since the beginning of a bloody Muslim insurgency nearly seven years ago.

The government-allied National Liberation Front (FLN) and five other parties presented accusations Monday to Justice Minister Mohamed Adami.

They claimed security forces used physical aggression against parliamentary deputies and barred deputies from voting precincts and vote-counting operations, and said authorities refused to receive opposition deputies.

Deputy Khalida Messaoudi, a member of the Rally for Culture and Democracy, said police kept her from monitoring a voting precinct on election day. She also said troops barred her from a Nov. 17 rally.

Altogether, 30 deputies were roughed up by security forces, said a source close to the Movement for Social Progress, a legal Islamist party.

Adami responded that the deputies should ``respect institutional rules″ and to file complaints. ``It’s not enough to accuse; proof must be given,″ he told the parliament.

But mounting pressure could force the government to act. Four parties have said they will call for an investigative commission. In addition, the National Liberation Front and the Movement for a Peaceful Society _ two parties in the governing coalition _ were leaning toward backing such a probe, which could split the government.

More than 60 out of Algeria’s 380 parliamentary deputies have already signed a statement protesting alleged election fraud. The vote was part of President Liamine Zeroual’s efforts to consolidate the government since the beginning of the insurgency in this petroleum-rich North African nation.

More than 75,000 people have died since the military-backed government canceled second-round parliamentary elections in January 1992 that the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front party was expected to win.

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