Algeria Can Find Progress Under Malek

In the Opinion page article ``Algeria: on the Brink of Government Crisis'' Sept. 15, the author rightly suggests that the country must move boldly on both the political and economic fronts.

However, he minimizes the political significance of the new Redha Malek government, and he implies that including the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in a ``government of national unity'' would be the right step to take.

The author neglects to mention the atrocious string of assassinations of leading secular intellectuals perpetrated by Islamists over the past several months. These sinister murders, which the FIS has not condemned, raise serious doubts about how Islamists would govern. The author calls for an ``understanding'' that the FIS will respect Algeria's constitution. Yet it was precisely FIS's unwillingness to make a clear commitment to democratic values that plunged the country into its current crisis.

The author writes that the appointment of Redha Malek ``will not help the country.'' Yet Mr. Malek already boldly has named the talented and market-oriented economist Mourad Benachenou, a former World Bank executive director, to be his top economic policymaker. Mr. Benachenou is well suited to tackle the very problems that the author mentions. Malek, a seasoned diplomat and author of a thoughtful book about Islam and modernity, deserves support in his effort to address Algeria's crisis. Robert Mortimer, Haverford, Pa. Professor of Political Science Haverford College

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