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DATE=6/27/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251149 TITLE=ALGIRIA / PARDON / L-O BYLINE=LISA BRYANT DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: ALGERIAN PRESIDENT ABDELAZIA BOUTEFLIKA SAYS HE WILL PARDON THOUSANDS OF ISLAMIST PRISONERS ON THE COUNTRY'S INDEPENDENCE DAY, JULY FIFTH. FROM CAIRO, LISA BRYANT REPORTS THAT -- IF GRANTED -- THE PARDON MAY MARK THE GOVERNMENT'S FIRST SIGNIFICANT STEP TOWARD REACHING A POSSIBLE CONCESSION WITH SOME OF ALGERIA'S REBEL GROUPS. TEXT: IN GENEVA, PRESIDENT BOUTEFLIKA ANNOUNCED PLANS TO PARDON SOME MUSLIM INSURGENTS. IN REMARKS CARRIED ON ALGERIA'S STATE RADIO, MR. BOUTEFLIKA INDICATED ONLY ACTIVISTS NOT CONVICTED OF SERIOUS CRIMES IN THE COUNTRY'S NEARLY-30-YEAR INSURGENCY WOULD BE PARDONED. HE SAYS THE AMNESTY WILL NOT INCLUDE PRISONERS WHO COMMITTED MURDER OR RAPE. THE PRESIDENT APPEARS TO BE LEAVING OUT THE MORE-MILITANT ACTIVISTS IN THE SWEEPING PARDONS -- INCLUDING MEMBERS OF THE ARMED ISLAMIC GROUP, WHICH THE GOVERNMENT HAS BLAMES FOR SOME OF THE BLOODIEST ATTACKS IN ALGERIA. OVERALL, FIGHTING BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND MILITANT OPPOSITION GROUPS HAS KILLED AT LEAST 70 THOUSAND PEOPLE SINCE 1972. IF GRANTED, THE PARDONS MAY BE THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT STEP TOWARD MEETING PRESIDENT BOUTEFLIKA'S CAMPAIGN PROMISE TO RESTORE PEACE TO VIOLENCE-TORN ALGERIA. IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS, THE BOUTEFLIKA ADMINISTRATION HAS INDICATED IT WANTED TO REACH AN ACCORD WITH ANOTHER MILITANT GROUP -- THE ISLAMIC SALVATION ARMY, WHICH CALLED A UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE IN 1997. THE ISLAMIC SALVATION ARMY IS THE ARMED WING OF THE ISLAMIC SALVATION FRONT, WHICH TOOK THE LEAD IN ALGERIA'S 1992 ELECTIONS. THE MILITARY-RUN GOVERNMENT CANCELLED THE SECOND ROUND OF ELECTIONS, AFTER THE SALVATION FRONT APPEARED TO BE WINNING. THE CANCELLATION SPARKED A NEW WAVE OF VIOLENCE IN ALGERIA. BUT SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, THE SALVATION ARMY'S LEADER -- MADANI MEZRAG -- CALLED ON PRESIDENT BOUTEFLIKA TO SEEK A NATIONAL RECONCILIATION IN ALGERIA. HE SAID HE WOULD HELP THE GOVERNMENT FIGHT OTHER MILITANT FACTIONS, IF THE PRESIDENT ENDORSED HIS GROUP'S CEASEFIRE. PRESIDENT BOUTEFLIKA WAS ELECTED THIS SPRING, AFTER A BITTER PRIMARY IN WHICH HIS SIX RIVALS WITHDREW AT THE LAST MINUTE. THEY CLAIMED VOTE RIGGING BY ALGERIA'S MILITARY-BACKED GOVERNMENT. (SIGNED) NEB / AB / DWJ-T / WD 27-Jun-99 5:19 AM EDT (0919 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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