ALGIERS (Reuters) - European Union observers on Saturday gave a qualified endorsement to an Algerian parliamentary election which handed victory to the ruling party, against the tide of "Arab Spring" revolts.
Some opposition forces expressed suspicions there had been manipulation of the vote, though the authorities denied this.
Jose Ignacio Salafranca, head of the EU's observer mission in Algeria, said there were shortcomings in some technical aspects of the election but there were "as many positive points as there were weak points."
"This election constitutes a first step on the path to reform which should lead ... to a deepening of democracy and human rights," he told a news conference.
Asked about allegations of vote-rigging from some groups, Salafranca said Algeria had a system in place to expose any abuse, and if it did happen, it would be up to the judicial system to decide what action to take.
The National Liberation Front, or FLN, the party of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, won 220 seats in the 462-seat parliament.
The RND party, led by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, was in second place and a moderate Islamist alliance with links to the ruling establishment came in third, according to the official results.
(Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Sophie Hares)