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Algeria: Military judiciary investigates former presidential candidate

Head of the Algerian Workers' Party Louisa Hanoune gives a speech during a political meeting ahead of the upcoming presidential election, on April 8, 2014 in Kolea, a town in Tipaza Province, northern Algeria. [AFP PHOTO/FAROUK BATICHE / Getty]
Head of the Algerian Workers' Party Louisa Hanoune gives a speech during a political meeting ahead of the upcoming presidential election, on April 8, 2014 in Kolea, a town in Tipaza Province, northern Algeria. [AFP PHOTO/FAROUK BATICHE / Getty]

Algerian national television announced that the former presidential candidate and leader of Algeria’s Workers’ Party had been summoned by the military judiciary to investigate charges of “prejudice to the authority of the state and the military establishment.” These are the same charges filed against the former president’s brother Said Bouteflika and former intelligence chiefs before being arrested.

On Thursday afternoon, the Algerian national TV broadcasted a picture of Secretary General of Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoune, in the military court in Blida city, south of the Algerian capital.

According to the same source, Hanoune was summoned by the investigating judge to hear her in the same case involving Said Bouteflika and former intelligence chiefs: General Mohamed Madin, called Tawfiq, and General Athmane Tartag, called Bashir.

Last Sunday, the military judge arrested the three on charges of “prejudice to the authority of the army” and “conspiracy against state authority.”

According to a statement of the court, the military authority commissioned an army judge to investigate the case, and that the latter issued orders to put the suspects in temporary custody.

Read: Algeria to arrest dozens of Bouteflika-era officials

Following Hanoune’s summoning to the investigation, the Worker’s Party issued a statement saying that the party and its leader are “being subjected to an unethical campaign” and that the party would publish an explanation of the case in later stages.

Hanoune, 65, has been Secretary General of the Worker’s Party since its foundation in the 1990s. She is also the first Algerian woman to run for the presidential elections three times in a row, as a rival to outgoing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Hanoune, a trade unionist since the 1970s who is referred to as a Trotskyist leftist, marked a historical event in 2004 as the first Arab woman to enter the presidential race, in addition to being nominated as a presidential candidate in 2009 and 2014.

In mid-April, Army Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah issued a stern warning to former intelligence chief and threatened to take strict legal action against him for “conspiring against the army and the popular movement.”

At the time, Gaid Salah referred to meetings and movements held by Madin, in coordination with Bouteflika’s close entourage, as an attempt to target the army, while local media reported that the leadership of the military establishment had discovered a coup plan.

Profile: Founder of Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front Abbasi Madani (28 Feb 1931-24 April 2019) 

A few days ago, former Defence Minister, Khalid Nizar, said in a statement that Said Bouteflika had consulted him before the resignation of his brother on 2 April regarding the imposition of a state of emergency and the dismissal of the army chief of staff to hinder the popular movement.

Nizar pointed out that Said Bouteflika was “the actual ruler of the country,” and that the former president was “totally paralysed due to illness.”

General Tawfiq, who was nicknamed as “the president’s maker,” was sacked from his position as head of the intelligence service on 15 September 2015, after 25 years in office.

Afterwards, General Bachir Tartag was appointed as the intelligence chief, until the Ministry of Defence announced his dismissal at the beginning of last April, in conjunction with the resignation of Bouteflika, under the pressure of Algerian protesters and the army.

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