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Veteran Algerian left-wing leader held in solitary confinement following arrest

Louisa Hanoune has been active in Algerian politics for four decades (Getty Archive)

Date of publication: 12 May, 2019

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The leader of the Algerian Workers' Party, Louisa Hanoune, has been held in solitary confinement by military authorities since Thursday on charges of "conspiring against the state".

The leader of the left-wing Algerian Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoune, is being held in isolation at a military prison in the town of Bleida south of Algiers, a senior official in her party told The New Arab on Saturday

Smain Kouadria said that “leaders from the Workers’ Party and members of Hanoune’s family tried to visit her in prison but the military courts didn’t allow them to.”

Kouadria added that the 65-year-old Hanoune was ill and needed to take several medicines but had been in solitary confinement since Thursday.

Louisa Hanoune had been called as a witness by the military court in Bleida in the case of Said Bouteflika, the brother of former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Said is being investigated along with two former intelligence chiefs for charges including “conspiring against the authority of the state” and could face the death penalty.

A military judge questioned Louisa Hanoune about previous contact between her, Said, and the intelligence chiefs regarding transferring Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s presidential powers to a new presidential council.

The judge then imprisoned her “temporarily” and charged her with “conspiring against the state and the army”.

Hanoune has been active in Algerian politics for over 40 years. She was imprisoned several times in the 1980s for her Trotskyist activism, before opposition political parties were legalised in 1988.

In 1990 she became the Secretary-General of the Workers’ Party and was elected to parliament, speaking out against the Algerian government’s “eradication” policy targeting Islamists during the 1992-1997 Algerian Civil War.

In 2004, she took part in Algerian presidential elections, becoming the first female presidential candidate in the Arab world, but received only 1 percent of the vote amid suspicions of electoral fraud.

On Saturday, protesters called for her release and the Workers’ Party issued a statement denying the charges against Hanoune, noting she has worked “in a transparent way, independently of the regime” throughout her career.

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