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April 16, 1999

US Disappointed at Algeria Election


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Filed at 2:40 p.m. EDT

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States is disappointed with Algeria's presidential election in which six of the seven contenders pulled out to protest fraud, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said Friday.

``The elections in Algeria might have represented a clear step forward on the path to democracy and political reform,'' Rubin said. ``We are clearly disappointed by the events of recent days.''

An aborted election in 1992 triggered an Islamic uprising and violence that has left 75,000 people dead.

Algeria could end that crisis by ``promoting democracy, the rule of law and economic reform,'' Rubin said. ``The Algerian leadership now assumes a heavy responsibility to pursue credible reform.''

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, seen as the choice of Algeria's powerful military, was declared the winner Friday with 73.8 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout estimates varied widely. Algeria's interior minister pegged it at 60.3 percent, but one candidate who withdrew said it was 25 percent.

``We do not have enough information at this time to make an authoritative assessment,'' Rubin said. It was not possible to have international election observers present, he said.



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