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Algerian rights activist paints grim picture

The head of Algeria's League for the Defense of Human Rights has painted a grim picture of the situation for human rights in this oil-rich North African country.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Nouredine Benissad said that despite the lifting of the state of emergency in February, the regime is using its same oppressive methods against those it opposes.

He cited the arbitrary arrests of activists, the harassment of striking workers, the closing of opposition media and the absence of debate.

Algeria holds regular elections and has a fairly free press, but most believe power resides in the hands of a small group of generals.

Legislative elections are set for May 10, and the government is trumpeting them as the freest and fairest ever, inviting in international observers.