Speaking at Doha where he has been since November for medical treatment, the group's head, Abassi Madani called for a halt to the festering violence and a postponement of the impending presidential polls.

Madani also urged that a "sovereign constituent assembly be set up to draft a constitution for a new republic in Algeria."

The FIS was banned in 1993, a year after Algeria plunged into civil war after the cancellation of legislative elections that Madani's party was poised to win.

Poll postponement

In rolling out his vision for the trouble torn country, Madani insisted presidential elections scheduled for April should be put back "to promote conditions of legitimacy and credibility."

"Sovereign constituent assembly be set up to draft a constitution for a new republic" in Algeria"

Abassi Madani
Islamic Salvation Front


As a precondition for his blueprint to work, the FIS head called for "a stop to fighting and violence in all forms, including that perpetrated by the authorities, as of Eid Al-Adha," the Muslim holiday of sacrifice which falls in early February.

He also said that for his initiative to work, there should be "a general presidential amnesty for all victims of Algeria's 12-year civil war, which has claimed some 150,000 lives.

Such an amnesty must include "the release of prisoners and guarantee the security for returning exiles," Madani said.

Madani –who spent 11 years in prison or under house arrest for undermining state security- said the aim of his peace initiative was "to shelter Algeria and the entire region from problems which will be impossible to control" if the civil war in Algeria is not ended.

"The crisis…has reached a stage of rot so advanced that the regime, which provoked it in the first place through errors committed in the course of 40 years, has shown itself to be powerless to resolve," the ageing leader said.