The head of the Algerian Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoune, thinks that numerous types of fraud were committed during the May 10 elections to guarantee the success of the National Liberation Front (FLN). She described the seats won by the FLN as “stolen,” and also stated that her own party had been punished by certain factions during the elections. She did not identify these factions, but she cited the discrepancy between the election results and her party’s successful campaign as evidence of tampering. The election fraud, in her opinion, was to ensure that certain “quotas” were met with regards to political seats. .
According to Hanoune, because the level of participation in the elections did not exceed 35 percent, democratically speaking, the elections constituted a step backwards.
The Secretary General of the Workers’ Party also claimed that members of the military voted two or even three times, which “invalidates the representative political system and renders the National Liberation Front’s results void.”
Waiting on Bouteflika
Louisa Hanoune accused “a certain faction” of spurring the people into taking to the streets to rebel against the consequences of the parliamentary elections. She said, “Algerians are well aware of what’s going on and we, at the Worker’s Party, will not allow any faction to use us to open the door towards the so called [Arab] Spring.” She further added that President Bouteflika’s promises of clean parliamentary elections did not “come true.” She also asked him to “clarify some issues, particularly the speech he gave in Setif [on May 8].”
The leader of the Worker’s Party was asked if she held President Bouteflika responsible for the “fraud and falsifications” that have, according to her, tainted the elections. This question was posed in light of the fact that many credit President Boutelika for the FLN’s success. She answered that her “opinion of Bouteflika’s words is different, considering his hints that his party was representative of Algeria.” However, her opinion was not final because of “Bouteflika’s ominous silence. [The Workers’ Party] asks that he clarifies his statement and stance in regards to the elections.”
Hanoune went on to name the officials and bodies who contributed to “falsifying” the elections. The list included: the Interior Minister, the FLN, the National Rally for Democracy (RND) and the administration. Where does Bouteflika’s political responsibility lie? Hanoune answered that a “certain faction” worked towards negating Bouteflika’s promises. According to her, this means that there are splits within the regime.
She added, “The President kept repeating that any fraudsters would be dealt with severely, and talked about guarantees in many of his speeches. But, the end results have made it clear that the Algerian regime faces a grave crisis caused by a rift within its ranks... The regime is divided, and the contradictory policies that coexist inside it lead to its dichotomous state.”
Hanoune also talked about her convictions from election results, saying, “A great strategic mind is responsible for engineering these elections, and we believe that the final outcome was provocative.” She added that the provocation emanates from “a faction that tried to incite the Algerian people to react and take to the streets.” But Algerians, in Hanoune’s opinion, are “much smarter than to be taken advantage of, and their reactions are not immediate; they keep a close watch on the situation and may rebel at the most unexpected of times.” She declared that her party “believed President Bouteflika’s promises and the many guarantees he gave. But in the end, we became aware of the extent of the regime’s internal crisis. The regime did not want the National Liberation Front to disintegrate, because they believe that both of their fates are intertwined.”
To those who viewed the parliamentary elections as merely a springboard for the presidential campaign, Hanoune said, “You have distracted yourselves with far off calculations while we look at the immediate future; will Algeria endure and remain intact until then? Isn’t it the target of competing international interests? Everyone should be included in planning for the future because fate spares no one.”
“The Judicial Supervision Committee Contributed to the Fraud.”
Louisa Hanoune said that the level of participation for the May 10 elections was “a fabrication.” She admitted that it was higher than the percentage attained in 2007, but pointed out that more than half of the seats won by the National Liberation Front were “fraudulent.” Regarding electoral fraud, she clarified in the Morning Breakfast section of El-Khabar that in addition to government employees being allowed to vote more than once, their intent to commit falsifications was apparent early on. The Interior Minister approved the establishment of new parties in order to facilitate fraud and to divide the voters. Furthermore, voter lists were amended and parties were prevented from receiving these lists, despite their requests to review them. Meanwhile, “European Union observers who knew that the voter lists would be used to perpetuate fraud were refused entry.”
Hanoune cited Aghwat province as an example of the participation level fabrication. Voter participation there jumped from 30 to 60 percent overnight, which she said was “an occurrence that also took place in many other provinces.” Hanoune asserted that “more than eight thousand votes were stolen from our party in Mostaghanem, while in Wahran the six seats we won were reduced to only three after a lot of give and take.” She added, “By the election day’s end, we had won 50 seats, despite the fraud. However that number then went down to 20, and finally to 17. How is that possible?”
Hanoune considered that the Judicial Supervision Committee complicated matters and contributed to the fraud. The Committee implicated the justice system in this act of fraud and falsification; Hanoune emphasized that “the Committee noted that three seats were stolen from her party for the benefit of the National Liberation Front in the capital, but they failed to restore those seats.”
She made it clear that her party was “not part of the opposition coalition formed in response to the elections’ results,” but she did say that “[The Workers’ Party] respects the decision of all parties, but there are new parties that are challenging the ballot results simply because they were unsuccessful, and this is strange coming from a party established barely two months ago.”
In response to these parties’ decision to boycott the election results, Hanoune said, “Boycott, and then what?” Regarding the election achievements of the Islamist parties, she said that she had not expected them to win a majority, but conceded that they too had snatched some seats from her party’s grasp.
Complicity within the Military
Louissa Hanoune spoke of a strong conviction among Workers’ Party leadership and its supporters that “a central government decision was taken to punish [them],” citing the 17 seats they won in the May 10 elections as evidence. According to her, military votes led to the National Liberation Front’s victory at the behest of unknown factions.
Hanoune does not know who decided to allegedly punish the Workers’ Party. However, she believes that it was due to her party’s political views.
“The falsification of the elections began even before any votes were cast, and took many forms, such as registering the names of military personnel on voter lists after the end of the legal period to amend them,” she said.
She also mentioned that “instructions were given to soldiers to vote for the National Liberation Front first, and then for the National Rally for Democracy.”
Hanoune was asked why these two parties failed to win a majority of the votes in the province of Algiers, which was won by the Green Algeria Bloc with 13 seats, if the military were ordered to vote for the parties of [FLN Secretary Geberal] Abdelaziz Belkhadem and [RND president] Ahmed Ouyahia? She answered, “In some states, such as the capital, instructions were given to the military to vote for the Green Algeria Bloc. This is part of the conspiracy to cover up the shameless fraud. They though that the scandal would not be exposed.” She wondered whether the same tactic was used with other security agencies, such as the police.
It is well known that last February, the provinces received a request by military commanders to add soldiers’ names on the voter lists. Provincial leaders transferred the army’s request and lists that included the soldiers’ names to the election committees, which were headed by judges. Some of the committees or judges refused to add the names because the legal period for amending the lists had expired, while others agreed. One of the most talked about examples of this is in Illizi province and in the capital, where two judges refused to add soldiers’ names to the lists. Hanoune accused the administration and the Judicial Supervision Committee of “conspiring in the overwhelming falsification of the elections. They were pre-planned, and main victim and target of this conspiracy was the Workers’ Party.”
She pointed out that the administration “proved its bias, and the judiciary proved its lack of independence in this electoral process.” According to her, this led to the Workers’ Party being deprived of winning no less than 80 seats in the People’s National Assembly. However, she refuses to compare Bouteflika with former presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia.
Not Interested in Governing
Louisa Hanoune said that nothing would entice the Workers’ Party to take part in the current government because it is well known that those elected on May 10 represented a majority. According to her, “had there not been a majority, and were the Workers’ Party in control of parliament, we would have asked the president of the republic to form a government of technocrats.”
Hanoune clarified that in the current political system, the president may disregard the deputies’ opinion in forming the next government. He can choose to appoint technocrats because Algeria is governed by a semi-presidential political system, not a parliamentary one. When asked if she favored disbanding the current government to form a new one, Hanoune replied that while some ministers performed well, others should not have been given any role in the executive branch. They have concentrated on outdoing one another, even when they were implementing decisions dictated from abroad or executing the International Monetary Fund’s instructions.
When asked to choose between Belkhadem and Ouyahia for prime minister, the Workers’ Party leader said that “Belkhadem destroyed public institutions, while Ouyahia worked to advance privatization and closed some institutions.” In her eyes, both of them “are responsible for unpopular decisions.”
In the same context, she pointed out that the National Liberation Front government is responsible for “denationalizing the oil sector and signing an agreement with the European Union; a move that does not serve the country’s interest and is utterly unpatriotic.” As usual, Hanoune defended the President. According to her, he “rectified” the economic orientation [of the country] after the referendum on the Charter for Peace and Reconciliation in 2005. This was possible by revising the policies to conform with monetary laws that were dictated abroad and implemented by the Ouyahia government. As an example, she cites the law that gives national institutions precedence on projects and imposes the 51 to 49 percent rule [that requires at least 51 percent Algerian ownership for any enterprise].
Hanoune also mentioned that half of the next People’s National Assembly would be comprised of businessmen, while their presence was limited in the past. According to her, the National Liberation Front nominated a well-known drug dealer who has now gained parliamentary immunity.
Hanoune judged that the performance and presence of the Socialist Forces is on the decline, even in tribal areas. Hocine Aït Ahmed’s party is no longer as it was in the early days of pluralism.
The FLN is no longer a party that represents the perpetuation of the revolution. It has come to espouse rightist capitalist values, and it is no longer the party that it was in the past, or even in 2002.