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Ruling NLF Makes Gains in Algerian Poll

Published: June 4, 2002 (Issue # 774)


ALGIERS, Algeria - The party that governed Algeria for nearly 30 years before the introduction of a multiparty system swept legislative elections that were marred by violence, a boycott and the lowest turnout ever.

The National Liberation Front, led by Prime Minister Ali Benflis, more than tripled its number of seats in the 389-seat parliament, moving from 64 to 199 seats, officials announced Friday.

Thursday's election was boycotted by key opposition parties and marred by unrest among the country's sizable Berber minority. Voter turnout - 46 percent - was the lowest since Algeria gained independence from France in 1962.

The participation rate and election-day riots in the Berber heartland of Kabyle, east of Algiers, cast a pall over President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's efforts to bring stability and a further measure of democracy to Algeria, where real power lies with the military.

Despite cautious steps toward increased democracy, the military is still widely viewed as the main power broker in Algeria, which is struggling under a decade-old Islamic insurgency, an insurrection in the Berber region, corruption and a hobbled economy, despite its oil and gas wealth.

The FLN's main coalition partner, the Rally for National Democracy, came in second with 48 seats, down sharply from 155 in the last chamber.

The FLN first came to power after the revolutionary movement with the same name led Algeria's war for independence against France. It remained in power until a new 1989 constitution legalized other political parties.

The FLN fell out of favor as other forces, led by Islamic fundamentalists, gained ground. Benflis, who campaigned actively ahead of the vote, rejuvenated the party. Some newspapers suggested he could become Bouteflika's successor.

Two moderate Islamic parties took 81 seats between them, thus becoming the second-strongest political force in the legislature.

The leader of Islah, a moderate Islamic party that won 43 of the 81 seats, claimed the election had been marked by fraud and said he would hand over evidence to authorities.

"Official results do not reflect the will of the nation,'' Abdallah Djeballah told a news conference. He would not elaborate on the fraud allegation.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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