Algeria’s Belhadj arrested, released

Algeria’s Belhadj arrested, released

Sat, 19 May 2007

Algerian police detained a leader of the banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) on his way to a press conference by the interior minister.

The Islamic Observatory, which claims to protect Muslim causes worldwide, said Ali Belhadj was arrested on Friday on his way to a press conference by Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni to announce the results of Thursday’s parliamentary polls.

« He (Belhadj) was heading to a press conference given by the interior minister … when he was arrested and taken to a police station for questioning and was released after a number of hours, » the London-based Islamic organization said.

The three parties allied with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika retained their clear majority in Algeria’s parliament at the polls, AFP reported.

The National Liberation Front (FLN), the Democratic National Rally (RND) and the Society of Peace Movement (MSP) together clinched 249 of the 389 seats in the National People’s Assembly.

In 1992, the FIS took a commanding lead in a first round of Algerian polls which the military-dominated authorities then scrapped. The party was later banned, sparking an insurgency that took the lives of at least 150,000 people.

Belhadj was sentenced to 12 years in jail with FIS leader Abassi Madani when the Islamic movement was banned but freed in 2003.