It was a simple statement from the State Department, almost lost in the daily flurry of transcripts, very public reactions and carefully nuanced policy papers aimed at high profile flash points in the world.
The statement was from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton congratulating the people of Algeria on their elections in mid-May. The vote had no violence, was fully observed by international missions and — as Clinton noted — “These elections — and the high number of women elected — are a welcome step in Algeria’s progress toward democratic reform.”
Some suggest the low-key statement was in response to a lack of interest in the election, as between 60 and 80 percent of Algerians boycotted the vote. They took the day off, went to the beach, and then went quietly back to work.
Nevertheless, the voting was in stark contrast to the turmoil that now bubbles through North Africa and the Middle East as a facet of the Arab Spring. The first surprise: these elections resulted in thumping of moderate Islamist parties, a first.
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