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This paper attempts to overcome the tendency of the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm to locate a local rather than global maximum when applied to estimate the hidden Markov model (HMM) parameters in speech signal modeling. We propose a hybrid algorithm for estimation of the HMM in automatic speech recognition (ASR) using a constraint-based evolutionary algorithm (EA) and EM, the CEL-EM. The novelty of our hybrid algorithm (CEL-EM) is that it is applicable for estimation of the constraint-based models with many constraints and large numbers of parameters (which use EM) like HMM. Two constraint-based versions of the CEL-EM with different fusion strategies have been proposed using a constraint-based EA and the EM for better estimation of HMM in ASR. The first one uses a traditional constraint-handling mechanism of EA. The other version transforms a constrained optimization problem into an unconstrained problem using Lagrange multipliers. Fusion strategies for the CEL-EM use a staged-fusion approach where EM has been plugged with the EA periodically after the execution of EA for a specific period of time to maintain the global sampling capabilities of EA in the hybrid algorithm. A variable initialization approach (VIA) has been proposed using a variable segmentation to provide a better initialization for EA in the CEL-EM. Experimental results on the TIMIT speech corpus show that CEL-EM obtains higher recognition accuracies than the traditional EM algorithm as well as a top-standard EM (VIA-EM, constructed by applying the VIA to EM).