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06ALGIERS1545 2006-08-30 14:12:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Algiers
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1. (C) SUMMARY: Two senior officials in the National
Liberation Front (FLN), Algeria's predominant political
party, reviewed the party's near-term priorities for us on
August 29. Their top goal is implementation of President
Bouteflika's Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation.
Second is supporting Bouteflika's upcoming proposal on
amending the Algerian constitution. The party's other
priorities focus on the electoral process in 2007. The FLN
has begun discussions with other Algerian political parties
on updating and reforming the electoral law with the goal of
balancing greater democracy with the needs of political
parties. They hope the reforms will pave the way for the FLN
to gain additional parliamentary seats in May 2007 national
legislative elections. END SUMMARY.

Implementing the Charter


2. (SBU) FLN communications director Said Bouhadja and FLN
steering committee member Mourad Lamoudi told us that the
party was most focused on two aspects of Charter
implementation. First, they said, it intended to support
whatever decision President Bouteflika (who is also FLN
honorary president) made on extending the August 28 deadline
for armed terrorists to surrender and disarm. The FLN
leaders believed it was wrong to second-guess any decision
Bouteflika might make to extend the deadline into or past
Ramadan. As the president of the country, they asserted, he
alone could balance competing interests and decide what was
best for Algeria. A second issue of immediate concern to the
FLN was making sure that families of the victims of terrorism
were fully compensated for their losses, in accordance with
the Charter. The party was not pleased with the pace of the
payments, which are controlled at the wilaya (provincial)
level, and was using its good offices to speed up the

3. (SBU) The FLN representatives briefed us in detail on the
party's proposed constitutional changes (reftel),
acknowledging that other political parties and organizations
had provided their own input to Bouteflika. While the FLN
obviously supported its own proposal, they said, Bouteflika
would certainly take elements of the several proposals he had
received and present a package that was completely his to the
Algerian people for approval by referendum. Regardless of
what Bouteflika's proposal contained, the FLN would
vigorously support it, according to our interlocutors.

Talking to Other Parties about the Electoral Law



4. (C) Bouhadja confirmed press reports that FLN party leader
(and Prime Minister) Belkhadem had met with his counterpart
at the opposition Islamic political party Islah (Reform). He
said the highest levels of the FLN were determined to work
hand-in-glove with other political parties in Algeria to
revamp the electoral law prior to May 2007 national
legislative elections. Islah's Djaballah was a natural ally,
we were told, because he had serious concerns about the
compilation and use of party lists at the ballot box. The
FLN believed the party lists, which virtually guaranteed the
election of the names at the top, were less than democratic
and failed to reward individual candidates who brought votes
to the ticket. While there was utility in keeping party
lists in some form, changes needed to be made. The FLN
wanted to coordinate with the other parties in making those
changes. The two FLN representatives would not divulge how
many of Algeria's 64 officially registered political parties
the FLN would approach, but it was clear that all parties
with representation in parliament would be consulted.
Further, they stressed, that consultation was meant to be
collegial rather than confrontational.

5. (SBU) The FLN is committed to expanding its already
overwhelming control of the national parliament in the May
2007 elections, we were told. To this end, the party had
done much to revitalize and strengthen its base. Our
interlocutors said the FLN was the most democratic of the
Algerian political parties at the lower levels, and that the
party's leadership strove to draw on that strong base of
support to recruit the very best candidates. A series of
local FLN elections, the modalities of which had not been

ALGIERS 00001545 002 OF 002

fully decided, would determine the eventual composition of
the party's national slate of candidates. Unlike the other
Algerian political parties, they said, the FLN slate would
include at least 25 percent women.

6. (C) COMMENT: We are encouraged by the FLN's privately
sharing with us its desire to be collegial in approaching
other Algerian political parties about electoral reform. It
strikes us as a good exercise in democracy, even though we
expect the parties will not find it easy to reach a consensus
on what changes are need to election laws in advance of the
May elections.