Pilgrims in “El-Jammaa Oufella” (“the upstairs mosque”), sitting above the Azro Nethor peak in the Djurdjura Mountain range, 1,884 meters above sea level. AFP PHOTO / FAROUK BATICHE
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A former Islamist guerrilla fighter's plans to enter politics have fanned fears of instability in Algeria, more than two decades after the army halted an expected election victory by his allies and plunged the country into war.Memories of the brutal 1990s war in which 200,000 people died hang heavily over Algeria, whose citizens see turmoil tearing at neighbors Libya, Egypt and Tunisia following the rise of violent Islamist militancy during the Arab Spring.Mezrag once led the AIS, an armed wing of the Islamic Salvation Front or FIS, the Islamist party that appeared set to win elections in 1992 before the military scrapped the vote, tipping Algeria into a decade of war with armed militants who declared holy jihad on the state.It is early days, and Mezrag's new Islamist movement has not been officially registered. It may not even get that far in a country where most former Islamist fighters are banned from politics under the terms of their national reconciliation.
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