By Hayam El Hadi
After years of division, three Algerian Islamist parties joined forces in the run-up to the May 10th parliamentary vote. The Society Movement of Peace (MSP), El Islah and Ennahda on March 7th announced the “Green Algeria Alliance”.
The three officially recognised Islamist parties will enter the electoral race with joint lists and a shared manifesto. According to its charter, the alliance seeks “revision of the constitution to suit the current situation and the expectations of the Algerian people in terms of freedom, justice and human dignity”.
The Islamist coalition intends to “complete the national reconciliation process and to put mechanisms in place to achieve that aim”. At the regional level, it “will work towards the realisation of the Arab Maghreb Union, Arab-Muslim integration and African and international co-operation”.
The alliance, however, failed to rally all of the country’s Islamist forces. The Freedom and Justice Party (PLJ) declined the invitation. Its leader, Mohamed Said, explained that “the PLJ is a party of consensus”.
He was not alone in distancing himself. Abdallah Djaballah, who formed the Justice and Development Front (FJD), also turned down the offer.
“All my attempts since I began my political career in 1976 to rally the Islamists together have ended in failure. I’ve lost all hope,” he said.
Djaballah, who has long tried to position himself as the leader of Algerian Islamists, accused the coalition parties of cozying up to the government.
MSP chief Bouguerra Soltani pointed out that the “Green Algeria Alliance” was firmly in the republican camp and would not threaten what has been achieved in terms of democracy.
The assurances, however, failed to assuage critics.
Labour Party (PT) Secretary-General Louisa Hanoune said: “The Islamist parties are not a political force. They will not win a majority, even if they create alliances among themselves.”
“We know our history: more than 200,000 died in the national tragedy. I’m convinced the Algerian people will not allow such a tragedy to be repeated,” she added.
Prime Minister and National Democratic Rally (RND) leader Ahmed Ouyahia believes that his party will provide a counterweight to the Islamist alliance.
“The Islamist parties will not win a majority in the next elections. They’re all drawing from the same pool of votes,” he said.