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ISLAMIC FRONT LEADER CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS IN ALGERIA

An Islamic fundamentalist leader demanded Wednesday that the government dissolve Parliament and hold early national elections after his followers beat the ruling party in local balloting.

Abassi Madani, president of the Islamic Salvation Front, thanked the government for allowing Algeria's first multiparty elections since independence in 1962. But he said Parliament, in which every seat is held by the ruling National Liberation Front, should be dissolved to clear the way for legislative elections within three months. There was no immediate government response.By midafternoon, no official results had been announced, but Interior Minister Mohamed-Salah Mohammedi said Madani's party won a majority of the 15,000 seats at stake Tuesday on 1,541 municipal and 48 provincial councils. About 13 million people were registered to vote.

The voter turnout was about 60 percent because of a boycott by several parties opposed to the government and the fundamentalists. In a constitutional referendum last year, the turnout was 76 percent.

Mohammedi said the fundamentalists were followed closely by the National Liberation Front and the anti-clerical Rally for Culture and Democracy.

In France, Algeria's former colonial ruler and home to hundreds of thousands of Algerian immigrants, Youth and Sports Minister Roger Bambuck indicated the results would cause alarm in government ranks.

"It's with great sadness that I see the rise of fundamentalists in Algeria," he said in a radio interview. "Every time one sees dogmatism on the rise, whether political or religious, it's liberty that is in danger."

He said the results "will be a source of worry for Algerians and will create difficulties for our Algerian friends living in France."