Algerian leader floats peace initiative

An Algerian Islamist leader has said violence in the country will only end if all prisoners are freed, those missing are accounted for, and a state of emergency is lifted.

    Madani was detained for 12 years

    Abassi Madani, chief of the banned Islamic Salvation Front

    (FIS), said these

    conditions were part of an initiative floated to military and

    government figures to end the civil war that

    had ravaged Algeria for more than a decade.

    "When we call for an end to the bloodshed there must be a

    general presidential pardon for all prisoners and freeing those

    missing... and lifting the state of emergency," he said.

    Madani, speaking to Aljazeera on Wednesday, did not elaborate.

    The Islamist leader, now in his 70s, was arrested shortly

    before army-backed authorities cancelled parliamentary elections

    which the FIS was poised to win in 1992.

    The move triggered almost a

    decade of civil strife that has claimed an estimated 100,000-150,000

    lives.

    "When we call for an end to the bloodshed there must be a

    general presidential pardon for all prisoners and freeing those

    missing... and lifting the state of emergency"

    Abassi Madani,
    Islamic Salvation Front leader 

    The Algerian government blames Islamist groups for the often indiscriminate violence, but many have accused the government itself of taking part in the carnage.   

    In the past two years violence had continued at a sporadic,

    reduced level.

    Madani, who served 12 years for threatening state security,

    was freed in July. He accepted his release on the condition that

    he refrained from political activity.

    He told the satellite channel that certain

    officials had seen the proposal. "Not everyone in power is

    against changing the situation," he said.

    Algeria is due to hold presidential elections in 2004, which

    will be seen abroad as a gauge of political and economic

    stability in the oil-rich country.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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