Letter: Democracy is the cure for Algeria

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The Independent Online
Sir: You conclude ('Algerian crisis that threatens us all'; leading article, 12 July) that the best solution for Algeria to get out of its present crisis would be to reconstruct the economy.

But can an economy be repaired where political stability has broken down? Thousands of people have been killed since January 1992 by the security forces, by Islamic groups and by other armed groups and individuals.

The Algerian problem lies in poverty and social justice. The ruling party, recognising that something had to be done, called for a democratic general election, the first round of which was effectively won by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in December 1991. It is questionable whether the FIS was extremist or anti-democratic at the time.

A military coup followed and the second round of elections, scheduled for 16 January 1992, was cancelled. It is difficult to argue that the present appalling situation is better than to have allowed the democratic process to run its course.

President Zeroual has called for dialogue, but there is evidence that extremists on both sides have hijacked the country and in places uncontrolled terrorism reigns. This is ironic in a country that for years gave a lead in human rights issues.

The moderate voice of Islam has to be heard in Algeria and elsewhere. As you say, the Algerian crisis threatens us all. Governments cannot object to the democratic process when it produces results they do not like. Economies can better be repaired through the auspices of democratically elected governments than through dictatorships or autocracies ruling without the consent of their people.

Yours faithfully,

R. W. GOLDSMITH

Colwyn Bay,

Clwyd

12 July

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