"The capital has been saturated with security forces to ensure that Algeria's sham elections come off smoothly," TIME's Lara Marlowe reports, where armed guards are patrolling the streets hoping to ensure that presidential polling goes off without a hitch on Thursday. It won't be easy. "Algerian diplomats admit openly that the purpose of the election is to give legitimacy to the government," says Marlowe. "But how much credibility can the poll have when the main opposition, the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) is not allowed to participate and its leaders are in prison? The election already resembles 'The Emperor's New Clothes,' with the incumbent, retired General Liamine Zeroual, strutting around in the invisible trappings of a fictitious democracy. Zeroual was appointed head of state by a military-dominated committee in January 1994, but he sorely wants to be elected 'by the people'."