Ait Ahmad, president of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), is calling for wide-ranging reform in the country.

He wants an election to be held to form a constituent assembly that has ''respect for international conventions and pacts signed by Algeria, especially on human and the protection of the civilian population''.

The socialist leader has been living in exile in Europe since 1999 when he and all the candidates opposed to Algerian President Abd al-Aziz Bouteflika pulled out of  the election.

They claimed that the result of the election had been secured to favour Bouteflika before a single vote had been cast.

The socialist leader says that his country is ''sinking into chaos and society is getting more and more dislocated''.

Support

The FFS has traditionally been supported by ethnic Berbers, from the northeastern Kabylie region.

Along with the National Liberation Front and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), Ait Ahmad's party won seats in the 1991 general election.

The army called off the second round of elections once it was clear that the FIS was set to win. The Islamist party was banned, leading to an insurgency which has claimed the lives of an estimated 150,000 people.