CAIRO ø Algeria expects fresh shipments of lethal weapons from the
United States in wake of the re-election of President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika.
Bouteflika was re-elected by 83 percent of the electorate on Thursday,
the Interior Ministry said. The president's opponent, former Prime Minister
Ali Benflis, won eight percent.
"Election-day processes were generally transparent and free from fraud,"
State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. "I think the Algerian
people should be congratulated on having conducted this election in a
peaceful and relatively transparent way."
Officials said the U.S. determination would pave the way for the first
deliveries of lethal weapons. They said the first such weapons could arrive
over the next month.
A spokesman for Benflis said his candidate would protest the election
results, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said 59 percent of Algeria's 18 million registered voters
cast their ballots.
Algerian officials said the North African state has made significant
progress in fighting the Islamic insurgency. They said that aid from France
and the United States would allow for enhanced night operations by the
military against the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call, regarded as the
main Islamic insurgency group. On Thursday, French President Jacques Chirac
was expected to arrive in Algiers in a show of support for Bouteflika.
"We now have less than 1,000 Islamic fighters in all Algeria, while we
were fighting close to 25,000 in 1994 and 1995," Prime Minister Ahmed