War-scarred Algeria town still waiting for work

Wed Apr 1, 2009 2:50pm EDT
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By Lamine Chikhi

DELLYS, Algeria (Reuters) - The 15 police checkpoints on the road from the Algerian capital to Dellys are reason enough for an eerie atmosphere hanging over this Mediterranean port town.

Pristine, empty beaches, pine forests and a rambling 2,000- year-old casbah should make it a tourist hotspot, yet Dellys is isolated as it tries to recover from a brutal civil conflict that engulfed the north African country in the 1990s.

Many towns in the restive, mountainous Kabylie province are still struggling to shake off the legacy of violence. With its tourism potential and proximity to Algiers only 130 km (80 miles) away, Dellys might have hoped to fare better.

Mayor Rabah Zerouali had expected improving security would spur inward investment and job creation in the town of 29,000, where traditional industries are sardines and grapes.

He has been disappointed.

"I can tell you we create zero jobs. The situation is very worrying, particularly among the young," he said.

Many Dellys residents joined the Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, but now say terror has given way to a stifling isolation.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has overseen the north African country's retreat from chaos since 1999, has promised a $150 billion national development program if he is re-elected this month.   Continued...

<p>A man looks from the window of his house in Dellys February 26, 2009. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi</p>