Would you like to make English your default language on this site?

2012-04-22

Islamist party funding stirs up controversy in Algeria

By Hayam El Hadi for Magharebia in Algiers – 22/04/12

  • 4

Concerns are mounting in Algeria over the funding of Islamist political parties in the country's May 10th election. Even before the official start of campaigning on April 15th, several parties had been accused of accepting funding from abroad.

The leader of the Workers' Party caused a stir initially with allegations that unnamed Islamist parties had received financial support from Qatar and Turkey. At a February 19th party meeting, Louisa Hanoune questioned the "reasons why three Islamist parties have travelled to Qatar", and called on the government to ensure that no foreign funding was received.

Also in February, Seddik Chihab, a senior member of the National Democratic Rally, claimed that Islamists were "travelling to Turkey and Qatar to pick up a few dollars and coming back to sell us their religious model".

This statement forced the question of campaign financing to the top of the national agenda.

Senior officials and Islamist party leaders have issued a variety of responses. In early April, Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia mentioned the "possibility of an inquiry into this secret funding" and said "the Organic Law on Elections makes provision for extremely tough penalties".

Claiming to represent the Islamist movement during a press conference on April 14th, Abdelmadjid Menasra of the Front for Change said: "These statements are merely an attempt to stir up controversy and tarnish the image of Islamist parties. If they have any proof of their allegations, they have only to refer the matter to the courts."

Abdellah Djaballah's Front for Justice and Development (FJD) is among the accused parties, but the leader refused to be drawn into a heated debate. On March 27th, he said that "funding for the party's electoral campaign will be the responsibility of the FJD's chief candidates, because the party does not have a national budget for this purpose".

Any party that solicits funding from abroad faces severe penalties under the Law on Political Parties. Article 56 stipulates that it is "forbidden for a political party to directly or indirectly receive financial or material support from any foreign party for any purpose or in any form."

These provisions are echoed in the Organic Law on Elections. In Article 204 it is stipulated that "no candidate in a national or local election may directly or indirectly receive donations in cash or in kind or any other contribution of any kind that originates from a foreign state or an individual or legal entity of foreign nationality."

Penalties are covered by article 231, which states that "anyone who infringes the provisions of article 204 of this Organic Law shall be punished by 1-5 years' imprisonment and a fine of between 2,000 and 20,000 Algerian dinars."

Mohamed Seddiki, president of the CNSEL (National Legislative Election Monitoring Commission), assured voters on March 28th that "if parties have received foreign funding, the relevant authorities will take appropriate action."

Security is increasing in advance of the May poll, AFP reported. On April 19th, police chief Abdelghani Hamel announced the deployment of more than 60,000 police officers across the country to ensure public safety.

"We will even call up trainees," Hamel told APS.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's regime bills the election as part of an unprecedented reform process that comes amid deep political upheaval in most of Algeria's neighbouring states.

Around 500 foreign election observers are expected in Algeria – Africa's largest country – for the polls. The opposition has systematically denounced fraud in previous votes.

What do you think of this article?

71

Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.

POST YOUR COMMENT 4

Anonymous_thumb

You are not signed in. Anonymous comments are subject to moderation. Sign up to have your comment posted immediately - Learn more

Or post your comment using:

* DENOTES REQUIRED FIELD

  1. Anonymous_thumb

    MILOI 2012-4-24

    The date of elections is May 10 not 15 o writer of the article, write with more professionalism!

    • 0 Likes

  2. Anonymous_thumb

    الجزائر العميقة أو العجيبة 2012-4-23

    Funding parties and electoral campaigns. A fuss was stirred by some party figures in Algeria about funding parties. Perhaps it is noticed at the beginning of the electoral campaigns that many violations will be observed during the electoral campaign including bribery, attempt to buy votes, threatening and coercing citizens although there are judicial reporters who are in charge of monitoring along with committees which supervise these elections and which include judges. However, the most noticeable thing in the province of Annaba where candidates are vying for nine seats is that one candidate went to university to bring students’ transportation buses in order to attend meetings of his party and threaten them. Another candidate belonging to a party - led by an individual about whom the press stirred suspicions about his historical affiliation and about which he didn’t reply - to distribute quintals of flour in neighbourhoods of the city. In addition, an official in the municipality of Annaba he is candidate on a list of a party threatened social network, pre-recruitment workers and other people of terminating their contracts. Some candidates even usurped the identity of attorney even if some of them were suspended and were subject to disciplinary sanctions including suspension for some period of time from practicing their job as solicitors while others were even barred from the lawyers’ union. An observer commented by saying “how can someone who is prevented from running to the elections of lawyers’ union run for the parliamentary elections? This is the country of wonders!

    • 0 Likes

  3. Anonymous_thumb

    mahdi sman 2012-4-23

    Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you. A reply to Louisa Hanoune about her statements that FIS wasted a million militant since its dissolution. You should add to your calculations in your electoral campaign the reduction of three votes as I, my wife and son will join FIS. Unfortunately, I married in 1990. Just one question, where are your promises you launched on the day you inaugurated the party. If you forgot, history doesn’t forget.

    • 0 Likes

  4. Anonymous_thumb

    'TZIRI 2012-4-22

    The financing of social or cultural associations and of – to a great degree – political parties is a fundamental question of the democratic game, the rules of which are laid down by the law, are obligatory for everyone and must be strictly respected. No foreign financing – no matter where it comes from – should be tolerated at any time, and not just during the election campaigns. Any violation must duly be recorded and punished to the fullest extent of the law no matter the offender. There must be no foreign financings of any possible type (including the NGOs or the so-called UN bodies) because this boils down to a fraud of the democratic game in a disloyal way and constitutes in all cases a foreign interference, which is always fraught with consequences that are never insignificant, but are detrimental to the interests of the peoples. For a long time, the problem has been present. It is more than time to take these seriously. Money is the sinews of the war that is being waged against our peoples. Parties financed from abroad lose their independence and threaten the country’s independence, security and stability. The problem is not only a problem of democracy, but a problem of foreign interference, which puts national sovereignty at stake.

    • 0 Likes