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Algerians Demand Releasing Popular Movement Prisoners Before Elections

Algerians Demand Releasing Popular Movement Prisoners Before Elections

Monday, 21 October, 2019 - 08:45
File phot of Louisa Hanoune, head of Algeria’s Workers’ Party (REUTERS/Louafi Larbi)
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa

Political and human rights activists in Algeria have demanded the release of leftist leader Louisa Hanoune, who was sentenced by the military judiciary on June 25 to 15 years in prison.

Hanoune was accused of “seeking to overthrow the regime” and “conspiring against the head of a military squad.”

There are more than 120 arrestees from the eight-month-old popular movements in one prison in the capital, Algiers.

A national committee to demand releasing Hanoune held a meeting on Sunday that was chaired by Zahra Zarif, 83, a well-known fighter during the Algerian war of liberation (1955-1962).

The meeting was attended by leaders from Hanoune led, Workers Party, and popular movement activists.

They said the 2014 presidential candidate is a political prisoner who has “paid a high price for her stances on significant national issues.”

Demands to release popular movement prisoners have recently intensified ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for December 12.

According to activists, Hanoune was jailed for “opposing government policies to privatize companies and abolish relative pension system.”

They said she also exposed the public looting by the oligarchs, in reference to jailed businessmen on corruption charges.

These businessmen were close to Abdelaziz Bouteflika's brother and senior advisor, Said Bouteflika, who was sentenced on the same charges along with former Intelligence Chiefs Lt. Gen. Mohamed Mediene and Bachir Tartag.

It is believed in the political circles that the reason behind imprisoning these four figures is their efforts to topple Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, who currently rules the country.

During the meeting, activists demanded to release effective participants in the popular movement, who are remanded in custody on various charges.

These charges include “weakening the army’s morale,” and “undermining public order and national unity.

Among the most prominent detainees are Lakhdar Bouregaa, journalist Fodil Boumala and political activists Samir Belarbi and Karim Tabou.

Algeria’s National Committee for the Liberation of the Detainees (CNLD) announced sentencing a doctor in Bordj Bou Arreridj (250 km east of the capital), to seven years in prison for posting a picture on his official Facebook account, in which he appears raising Amazigh flag inside the operation room of a public hospital.

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