ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — An alliance of Islamist parties expecting a strong showing in Algeria's elections accused authorities Friday of widespread fraud as initial figures pointed to them finishing third, with a spokesman suggesting unrest could ensue.
The people of this oil-rich North African nation voted for a new parliament Thursday, in an election authorities billed as a response to the pro-democracy movements sweeping the Arab region. Results are released Friday.
Preliminary figures from Thursday night based on initial vote tallies gathered by the "Green Alliance" of three Islamist parties, put it just behind the former ruling party, the National Liberation Front, known by its French initials FLN in the 462-seat assembly.
But figures released Friday on private Algerian satellite television showed the Islamists coming in a distant third, behind FLN and its sister government party, the National Democratic Rally. Those figures could not immediately be confirmed.
Abderrazzak Mukri, a campaign manager for the alliance, said that the results the parties are seeing from the Interior Ministry differ dramatically from those gathered by the alliance's observers.
He told reporters in Algiers that "there is a process of fraud on a centralized level to change the results that is putting the country in danger."
He blamed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and added, "we are not responsible for what could happen" as a result of the alleged fraud.
He did not elaborate on the veiled reference to possible unrest. Algeria plunged into a decade of insurgency after the army canceled elections 20 years ago an Islamist party was slated to win.
In a subsequent statement, the alliance said if the fraud was official they would "take all the necessary measures," once again without elaborating.
The statement said the effort to boost the results of the FLN and its fellow government party, the National Democratic Rally, "contradicted the spirt of political reform and the hope and trust of the Algerian people."
Even 10 years after the civil war ended, the country still suffers from attacks by the North Africa branch of al-Qaida in a mountainous region east of the capital. There were reports of a few isolated attacks during elections, but no fatalities, on election day.