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The Internationalist
May 2019

Arrest of Algerian Workers Party Leader by Military Regime Threatens Entire Working Class

Free Louisa Hanoune!

On Thursday, May 9, Louisa Hanoune, General Secretary of the Algerian Workers Party (PT), was called before the military tribunal of Blida as a witness in the scope of an inquiry against Saïd Bouteflika – brother of the deposed President – as well as of two former heads of the secret police, Mohamed Mediene (alias “Toufik”) and Athmane Tartag alias “Bashir”. However, she was then placed in preventive detention accused of being somehow involved in “attacks on the authority of the army” and “conspiracy against the authority of the state.” This arbitrary arrest is a direct attack on the rights of millions of people who have demonstrated in recent weeks and presages a hardening of the military power. The League for the Fourth International demands that Louisa Hanoune be immediately released!

To be sure: the social democratic reformists of the PT have often enough been bootlickers for the generals, and Hanoune herself has rubbed elbows with all manner of unsavory elements – not only the Bouteflika gang, but also high officials of the International Monetary Fund and the Islamic reactionaries of the FIS! But the PT is now attempting to distance itself from Bouteflika and have workers believe that the corporatist UGTA federation can become a veritable organ of the working class.

General Gaïd Salah’s very selective arrests of supporters of the regime, of which the general was one of the main props for 15 years, are cosmetic measures to reinforce the “system.” Of course, anyone opposed to the hurried presidential elections slated for July 4 and organized by other Bouteflika cronies can and will be accused of “attacking the authority of the state.”

Moreover, on May 4, Hanoune rejected the army high command’s offer of “dialogue,” recalling how General Al Sissi in Egypt called for dialogue with “civil society” before and after he overthrew the president Morsi, and then arrested members of political parties who had supported him. She pointed as well to Sudan, where the army took power amid popular protests and installed a transition council to last for two years (El Watan, 5 May). Shortly after her speech, the orders were given summoning her to the military tribunal. The arrest of Hanoune is thus a threat against the entire left and working class.

After the police attacks on workers in Algiers on May Day and after mass protests against the regime have continued across the country for the 12th consecutive Friday, the LFI warns again of the danger of massive military repression. The Algerian masses need an authentic Trotskyist leadership that combats the illusions being spread about winning the officer corps to a peaceful “revolution.” ■