Algeria's moderate Islamist party pulls out of coalition government

Movement for a Peaceful Society say 2012 is the year for competition - not alliances ahead of April's legislative elections.

ALGIERS // A moderate Islamist party pulled out of Algeria's governing coalition, saying that 2012 is the year of competition - not alliances.

The announcement by the Movement for a Peaceful Society, or MSP, to leave the so-called presidential alliance on Sunday comes ahead of legislative elections in April.

The MSP's decision to enter the opposition should allow it to try to capitalise on the wave of Islamist victories in other Arab countries, although it is unclear how well the party can prosper after years inside the power structure.

The party had already reached out to Algeria's Islamist ranks ahead of the elections, and differences with its partners, the powerful National Liberation Front and the National Democratic Rally, were well known.

The MSP leader, Abou Djara Soltani, put the accent on disagreement over how to implement an array of reforms announced in April by Abdelaziz Bouteflika to placate the restless Algerian population.

The year 2012, Mr Soltani said, will be "the year of political competition ... and not that of the alliance", synonymous with "political mediocrity which serves neither the country nor its citizens".

The MSP has four ministers in minor posts.