Sant Egidio Platform
SANT EGIDIO PLATFORM
An attempt to defuse the bloody conflict between Islamists and the Algerian government through political dialogue; also known as the Rome Platform.
In 1994, members of the Algerian opposition approached the Roman Catholic lay movement Sant Egidio in Rome, suggesting that it attempt to broker a peace settlement on the model of the successful accord it had helped establish in Mozambique. A first meeting in November demonstrated the gulf between the government, represented by General Betchine, and the opposition parties, which for the first time since the breakdown of the Algerian democratic process in 1992 included the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in a multiparty forum. A wide range of opposition parties, representing some 80 percent of the votes cast in the 1991 elections, attended a second meeting in January 1995 and signed a national pact on 13 January, committing them to respect for both democracy and the Islamic traditions of the country and demonstrating the strength of a middle ground marginalized in the armed combat between the army and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Although the government immediately attacked the document as an attempt at "outside interference" with the government's efforts at drawing Islamists into the democratic process, the opposition parties claimed the agreement was proof that the government and not the Islamic parties had been responsible for obstructing the democratic dialogue. Hope briefly grew after 26 January, when the government announced presidential elections, but the spiral of violence thereafter demonstrated the powerlessness of the political opposition in the face of the intransigence of key forces in the security establishment and the extremist wing of the Islamist movement.
see also algeria: overview; algeria: political parties in; front islamique du salut (fis).
Riccardi, Andrea. Sant-Egidio: Rome and the World. London: St. Pauls, 1999.
george r. wilkes