Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Press freedom was severely curtailed prior to the April 2009 presidential elections, which President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won with over 90 percent of the vote amid protests of fraud by his opponents. The government consolidated its internet monitoring power during the year, and international observers reported that the authorities began blocking websites. Meanwhile, as the terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb continued to attack military, state, and foreign targets in the country, the government joined forces with neighboring countries to combat the regional threat of terrorism.
In response to terrorist attacks, the government appeared to be increasing its antiterror efforts throughout the year. In March, it announced that 150 militants had been killed and another 50 had surrendered in exchange for amnesty, including Ali Ben Touati, a senior commanding officer of AQIM. In May, eight militants were killed in a government raid of AQIM strongholds just east of Algiers. Meanwhile, in August, Algeria hosted a meeting between high-level military commanders from Mali, Niger, and Mauritania in an effort to generate regional cooperation in an antiterrorism initiative. Several thousand additional Algerian troops were sent to the already-large contingent of troops protecting the country’s southern border.
Algeria is not an electoral democracy. However, Algerian parliamentary elections are more democratic than those in many other Arab states. The military still plays an important role in politics despite fluctuations in its prominence in recent years. The June 2008 appointment of Ahmed Ouyahia as prime minister in a cabinet shuffle appeared to signal an increase in military influence, as he had first held the post as part of the military-dominated regime of the 1990s.