EU tips its cap at Algeria after peaceful elections | News | DW | 12.05.2012
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EU tips its cap at Algeria after peaceful elections

EU election observers have reported that parliamentary elections in Algeria this week were generally free and fair. Their comments come a day after politicians from Green Algeria accused authorities of electoral fraud.

European Union election observers commended Algeria's recent parliamentary election on Saturday, dismissing internal allegations of fraud.

"The elections passed off peacefully and under good conditions and their organization was generally good," said EU monitor-in-chief Jose Ignacio Salafranca. He was delivering a preliminary assessment of the polls following the Algerian regime's unprecedented decision to grant access to 500 foreign election monitors.

While noting that there were also several shortcomings he commented that the election was a step towards democratic reform.

"We take note of a first step in the reform process which will need to be backed, after a constitutional review, by a deepening of democracy," Salafranca told reporters.

The National Liberation Front, which has ruled Algeria for the past 50 years, increased its share of seats in the national assembly from 136 to 220 in Thursday's election. Combined with the support of independents President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's party should attain an absolute majority.

The National Rally for Democracy won 68 seats, while the Islamist Green Alliance came a distant third, securing 48 seats. It was a disappointment for the grouping of three moderate Islamist parties who were predicted to score well.

Fraud allegations

On Friday the Green Alliance suggested that the results had been manipulated to favor the ruling parties.

Responding to the allegations Salafranca said: "There were more transparency criteria than in previous elections. However, there are still areas where additional criteria could be introduced."

He criticized the fact that local observers were not accredited and said that several points in the electoral law were incoherent. He also said he regretted that the Interior Ministry denied foreign observers access to a nationwide electoral roll.

ccp/sej (Reuters, AP, AFP)