CIA Accused of Funding Legislative Associations in Algeria

Article Summary
Secretary General of the Algerian Labor Party Louisa Hanoune has accused the CIA of financing Algerian political parties, which she claims is an attempt to replicate the Tunisian and Egyptian experience in her country. The Algerian National Council will discuss Hanoune’s proposed changes to electoral laws in February. Mohamad Cherak reports.

Secretary General of the Algerian Labor Party, Louisa Hanoune has called on the government to prevent foreign states and organizations from financing the campaigns of candidates running in next spring’s legislative elections. She said she had evidence that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was financing four associations in Algeria.

In a January 29 press conference at the end of the central committee's session, Hanoune said she had files that prove US intelligence has been financing four Algerian organizations, including a human rights group and a "cultural" association. She warned candidates against receiving financial aid from abroad for their electoral campaigns because they will end up catering to foreign interests. The Labor Party leader said the aid sought to establish links to parties and associations in Algeria, in an attempt to place Algeria on the same trajectory as Tunisia and Egypt. In fact, "the same foreign departments funded parties in Tunisia prior to the Constituent Assembly elections,” she alleged.

Hanoune said that some of these departments "sent me letters asking me to send MPs to the US to take some lessons, related to [public speaking] and how to address an audience,” adding that ''a political party official in Algeria returned from the US with public speaking skills he did not have before," but she did not mention his name.

Turning to politics, the Labor Party leader denied the existence of any rivalry between Labor Party members and Abdallah Djaballah, head of the Justice and Development Front, following their recent debate on Islamists and [the parties'] respective attitudes towards them. ''We are not at war with Djaballah and we have no problems with him, but we are against those who serve at the leisure of third parties,” she said.  ''We have already dealt with Djaballah, and if we are invited to his party’s founding conference, we will see how to deal with the situation” [the Justice and Development Front, or FJD, is a new party recently established by Djaballah].

Hanoune ruled out [that voters would show] “greater” sympathy for Islamists. She said, "if Islamists are dreaming of [such an outcome], then this is their right. However, they must keep in mind that Algeria's spring took place in 1988” [a reference to the October Riots sparked by Algerian youth, which resulted in the collapse of the country’s single-party system and the introduction of democratic reforms].

She criticized the unethical practices of some parties looking to add candidates to their lists, offering 50 million Algerian dinar [about US $669,050] to women willing to announce their candidacy. She said the new electoral law is “weak” and demanded President Bouteflika [strengthen it] and take some [additional] measures prior to the elections, including setting a ceiling for electoral campaign expenses, restricting the [political] role of Algeria's tribes, preventing [bribes] from entering parliament, and including [an article] in the next constitution [to limit when an MP may switch sides].

Hanoune said that the National Council will hold a meeting on February 16, 17 and 18 for the party's leadership, in order to study the present situation and the details of legislative elections. The meeting will also discuss the lists of candidates that Hanoune has requested.

Found in: parliamentary elections, organization, labor party, islamists, foreign interests, financing, constituent assembly, cia, abdallah djaballah

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