Algeria. Algerian military spokesmen reported Feb. 10
that the leader of the GIA terrorist group (Groupe Islamique
Armée, Armed Islamic Group), Antar Zubari, was killed in a
firefight 25 km south of Algiers. At the end of July, his
successor, Rashid Abu Turab, was also killed.
Countryaah website, Tunisian President Zayn al-Abidin visited Algeria on
February 11-13. During the discussions with Algerian
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, agreements were made on
border demarcation and business cooperation.
President Bouteflika announced on March 12 that the
language of the Berber Tamazight would be recognized in the
Constitution. The message came almost on the anniversary of
a massacre in Kabylia in northeastern Algeria where the
Berber has a strong attachment. New riots broke out in
Kabylia at the end of March as security forces stormed
offices in Tizi-Ouzou and Bejram, which were part of the
CADC (Coordinations des Aârouch, Daïras et Communes),
gathering the Berber resistance. On April 8, Parliament
decided to give the Berber language the same status as
May was marked by a series of acts of violence in which
up to 390 people fell victim to Islamist extremist groups
who wanted to disrupt the parliamentary elections on 30 May.
The turnout was record low, about 46%. The Berbers boycotted
the election. The FLN (Front de Libération Nationale, the
National Liberation Front) prevailed strongly and received
199 of Parliament's 389 seats. FLN's Ali Benflis was allowed
to continue as prime minister. He formed a government with
the RND (Rassemblement National Democratique, National
Democratic Assembly), which lost two-thirds of its mandate
to 47 and the moderate Islamist party MSP (Mouvement de la
Société pour la Paix, the 'Social Movement for Peace'),
which got 43 seats. Five of the 39 government members were
women, which was historic.
On July 5, the country celebrated 40 years of
independence from France. An explosive attack on a market in
Larbaa just south of Algiers claimed at least 35 people's
lives and some 80 injured. The deed was labeled as the worst
so far during the year. Struggles continued during the year
between the military and the GIA as well as the radical
group GSPC (Groupe Salafiste pour la Pédication et le
Combat, the Salafist group for preaching and combat).
In late July, Foreign Minister Abd al-Aziz Belkhadem
visited France. This "work visit" was seen as a thaw of
previously frosty relationships. In October, President
Bouteflika became the first Algerian head of state to visit
Spain since 1985.
Despite a low turnout, FLN consolidated its position
among voters when local elections were held on October 10.
This election was also boycotted by the Berber parties, such
as the RCD (Rassemblement pour la Culture et la Democratie,
Collection for Culture and Democracy).