Islamists suffered a surprising defeat in Algeria's parliamentary elections, The Associated Press reported on Friday.
The Islamists’ defeat is surprising, in the wake of a trend that saw them gain power across North Africa after Arab Spring uprisings.
According to AP, the three party Islamist “Green Alliance” claimed that the results of Thursday's elections were rigged to keep them out of power in a country that has experienced decades of violence between radical Islamist groups and security forces.
The Green Alliance was widely expected to do well, but instead it was the pro-government National Liberation Front that has ruled the country for much of its history that dominated the election.
The FLN, as it is known by its French initials, took 220 seats out of 462, while a sister party, also packed with government figures, took another 68 seats. The Islamist alliance, meanwhile, took just 48 seats, less than in the last election.
“We are surprised by these results, which are illogical, unreasonable and unacceptable,” Abou Djara Soltani, the head of the largest party in the alliance, told AP, attributing the results to “those who would like to return to a single party rule.”
Soltani said his alliance would discuss whether they would pull out of parliament, but said their most likely move was to attempt to ally with the smattering of other leftist and liberal parties in the opposition.
“These results will send the Algerian spring backwards,” he added.
Algeria was one of the countries to be hit by protests during the Arab Spring, and hundreds were arrested by riot police as they called for the President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation.
Bouteflika subsequently lifted a state of emergency imposed in 1992, as Islamist militants waged war over the government's decision to ignore elections that gave a majority to a Muslim party. He announced reforms and said the new parliament would be involved in rewriting the constitution.
In February, Bouteflika called Thursday’s elections and claimed they would pave the way to rebuilding the Algerian state to one characterized by good governance and social justice.
Bouteflika promised a clean election with surveillance carried out by representatives of the political parties as well as an independent political commission. He said that international observers will also be allowed to monitor the contests.
The Islamists, however, said the overwhelming victory for the government parties were fraudulent.
“Of course there was fraud,” Abderrazzak Mukri, the alliance's campaign manager, told AP. He said initial tabulations from voting stations Thursday night had put the Islamist party as a close second to the FLN.
Interior Minister Dahu Ould Kablia, who announced the results Friday, dismissed any possibilities of fraud and described the elections as free, transparent and fair.
“There was no fraud,” he was quoted as having said at the press conference. “If anyone has proof, they have 10 days to present it.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)