Algeria's top Islamist offers olive branch to army

Algeria's influential army, an old foe of the Islamic opposition movement, must play a crucial role in restoring peace and democracy in the country, a top Islamist politician told Reuters news agency

Algeria's top Islamist offers olive branch to army

"The army is a key player during this transitional period," said Rabah Kebir, a revolutionary-turned-reformist who has been backing the government's peace efforts since his return last September from 14 years of exile in Germany.

"It (the army) is a real guarantee that the political class will reach a stage where it will be able to govern the country in the manner of Western democracies,"

"The day the parties will govern the country, that day the army will withdraw and play its role as described in the constitution," he added.

Kebir's conciliatory remarks are the most positive made by a top Islamist politician about the powerful Algerian military since the country descended into violence in 1992 following aborted elections that Kebir's banned movement; The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), was tipped to win.

His praise of the military's role in restoring peace and political stability indicates his interest in improving his relations with the Algerian government, which has sought to welcome the Islamists into the political process provided they lay down their arms.

After his return from Germany, Kebir became the first leader of the FIS to end his self-imposed exile since the party's armed wing launched a rebellion in 1992 after the then military-backed government cancelled a parliamentary election that the FIS was poised to win.

More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the fighting, which has declined in recent years.

The FIS remains banned in Algeria and a state of emergency imposed in 1992 remains in place.

Analysts say the Algerian military has gained significant influence in national affairs since the country won its independence from France in 1962.

International human rights groups have accused the Algerian army of committing grave abuses in its fight against the Islamists, including as extra-judicial killings, disappearances and torture.

The authorities dismissed the charges, claiming that the abuses were carried out by individuals acting out of personal motives.

Observers believe that the Algerian military will continue to oppose any attempt by Islamists to establish an Islamic state.

Kebir, who calls for pluralist democracy, says that he now sees the army as a safeguard of reform.

"It (the army) is a constitutional institution, and it is the backbone of any country. It is a respectable institution, particularly during a transitory period as it is the case for Algeria. Democracy is a work in progress in Algeria, and the army represents a guarantee that we will not be derailed from our goal to set up a democracy in Algeria," he told Reuters.

"I learned a lot from the west, particularly from Germany where I lived for over a decade. I learned how honest they were about implementing democracy. Elections are really free and fair, the party that gets the majority is the party that leads the country, the party that gets the minority continues to have a political activity," he added.

Source: Al Jazeera Magazine

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16