U.N. takes close look at Algerian election

May 4, 2012 at 2:18 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, May 4 (UPI) -- A U.N. representative said he issued an official request to visit Algeria to help the country meet international standards during next week's elections.

"I am prepared to provide any technical support and assistance needed to ensure that the law on association and its implementation meet international law standards," U.N. Special Envoy on Peaceful Assembly Maina Kiai said in a statement.

Kiai said that while pro-democracy demonstrations in the Middle East were welcome developments, Algerian laws suggested a step in the wrong direction.

Algerian laws, passed in December, place restrictions on setting up associations and limit access to foreign funds. Algerian authorities can reject said associations without referring the case to judicial authorities, a reversal of previous laws.

"This is all the more alarming given that the law provides that those who act on behalf of an association which has not yet been registered, or has been suspended or dissolved, may face up to six months imprisonment and a heavy fine," said Kiai.

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in October, praised the work of the North African branch of al-Qaida and called on Algerians to follow regional examples and rise up against their government.

Algeria has elections for its legislative assembly Thursday.

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