Election officials in Algeria say a referendum on a partial amnesty for Islamic militants has been backed by more than 97 percent of voters. Algerians were voting for what was billed as “a charter for peace and national reconciliation.”
But some small opposition parties accuse President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of using the referendum to strengthen his grip on power. Human rights groups complain that many abuses, including the fate of thousands of missing people, will be swept under the carpet. The conflict began after the army cancelled a 1992 election which the Islamic Salvation Front was on course to win. The conflict left more than 150,000 people dead. The ballot was not independently monitored and analysts have questioned the government’s claims of turnout levels of up to 90 percent.