Statement by the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI)
On 10 October 2019, the French weekly newspaper Informations Ouvrieres, the publication of the CCI and its international grouping, published a document titled: “Her lawyers reveal what Louisa Hanoune said to the judge in the Bilda military court.”
The OCRFI and its organisations took a public position as early as 9 May 2019 against Louisa Hanoune’s arrest, and reiterated that public position when the Bilda military court sentenced her to 15 years in prison. This is a principled position of unconditional solidarity against repression, which obviously doesnot mean political agreement with Louisa Hanoune and her party.
Louisa Hanoune and her party have every right to carry out the policy they have chosen. The OCRFI has every confidence in the Algerian workers’ ability to identify and choose which parties represent their interests, and which do not represent them.
But the fact that an international grouping that claims to stand for the Fourth International and Trotskyism has adopted this policy as its own calls for clarification. Not asking any worker or any activist to simply take our word for it, we publish the whole document, as it appeared in Informations Ouvrieres, as an attachment to this statement. [Note: Copy of this article is available only in French; it can be sent to readers upon request. — The Organizer Edit. Bd.]
Reading the document leads to two observations.
The first observation is that the full exchange between Louisa Hanoune – as transcribed by her lawyers – and the Blida military court (which sentenced her to 15 years in prison on 25 September, after arresting and detaining her on 9 May 2019) confirm that:
- it is exclusively due to her views and her political activity as a PT leader that Louisa Hanoune was imprisoned and convicted;
- not one sliver of evidence was established regarding a so-called “plot” against anything;
- therefore, Louisa Hanoune has unquestionably been subjected to repression and imprisonment for her political positions.
For our part, basing ourselves on the principle – which should be the principle of the whole labour movement – of unconditional solidarity with any activist of any political tendency of the democratic and labour movement who falls victim to repression, we affirm once again, together with our comrades of the Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists of Algeria (COSI):
“From the standpoint of democracy, the person in charge of the PT is only accountable to her party and not to the military hierarchy; otherwise this would be nothing more than criminalizing political activity. (…) Without giving the slightest political support to the PT Secretary General and her party, the Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI) has called for her unconditional release from the very first moment of her incarceration. It reiterates this principled position today. It will continue to take action, together with others in unity, to demand her release.”
The second observation is that for any worker and any labour activist around the world, and especially for any militant activist standing for the Fourth International, its programme adopted in 1938, and its reproclamationin 1993 with Comrade Pierre Lambert, the facts as reported in the document published by Informations Ouvrieres on 10 October 2019 call for discussion and clarification.
The document being promoted by the CCI leadership was about “the meeting on 27 March in the villa Dar El Afia”, a meeting between the PT Secretary General, Saïd Bouteflika (the brother and special adviser to the former President), and General Toufik (the former head of Algeria’s state intelligence service, the DRS).
The document indicates that Louisa Hanoune is said to have “accepted the invitation” by the President’s adviser; accordingly, she therefore would meet with the regime’s main leaders on 27 March.
On 27 March, in other words more than six weeks after mass popular protests sprang up throughout Algeria on 22 February, initially demanding “No to a fifth term” (for Bouteflika), a slogan to which millions of Algerian men and women added, from 1 March onwards, “System, clear out!”
On 27 March, the same day of the meeting between Saïd Bouteflika, General Toufik and Louisa Hanoune, a COSI militant activist explained in an interview published in France by La Tribune des Travailleurs [Workers’ Tribune](Issue No.182, 27 March 2019):
“The people have responded [to the “back-room negotiations” to preserve the regime – Editor] by demonstrating on 22 March for the fifth time in a month, behind banners that declared “It is the people’s turn to have their say!” and “The people alone must manage the transition”. Their determination was so strong that other banners declared that this was ‘non-negotiable’.”
So, the document promoted by Informations Ouvrieres indicates that on 27 March, “the meeting took place around 3.30 pm. It was not secret.”
Not secret? If it wasn’t secret, then it means it was made public. In that case, they should say where and when. Where was the information on that meeting published? In which PT statement? In which public statement, through which media? In which article published by Informations Ouvrieres?
Any honest worker or activist can verify, based on the facts, that the meeting was never made public, either before it took place or afterwards. Neither publicly, nor internally, nor inside the PT itself, and even less in Informations Ouvrieres.  The fact is that the first time the meeting was made public was after Louisa Hanoune’s arrest (on 9 May), when one of her lawyers, Rachid Khane, referred to it publicly on 16 May.
The fact that Informations Ouvrieres thinks that it was politically justified that the leader of a party claiming to represent the workers should meet the main dignitaries of a regime that had been rejected by millions of Algerian men and women is one thing.
The fact remains that supporters of workers’ emancipation – especially supporters of the Fourth International and its programme – have always been the fiercest opponents of “secret diplomacy” that tries to find “solutions” behind the backs of the workers and the oppressed peoples. 
The document published by Informations Ouvrieres attributes to Louisa Hanoune the following statement before her judges: “The only thing that I myself referred to during that meeting was policy of a civilian nature: first of all, the President’s resignation, the dissolution of both parliamentary Chambers, the departure of the government and the restoration of the people’s say. (…) My only proposal was the President’s resignation and the nature of the political decisions to be taken, namely the departure of the government and the dissolution of the two Chambers, before letting the people have their say through a Constituent Assembly.”
But can one believe for a single second that the CCI leadership and the Informations Ouvrieres editorial team are unaware of the meaning of demanding a Constituent Assembly … in the framework of a secret discussion with the main representatives of the old regime?
By publishing this document, Informations Ouvrieres has adopted as its own the statement by the PT Secretary General, who is reported to have stated: “I have done everything possible to find a solution to the crisis. I have met the current President’s adviser. If he has no legitimacy, as the charge-sheet states, then every nomination since 1999 has been illegitimate.”
“Legitimate”? “Illegitimate”? But everything depends on the point of view one adopts. From the point of view of the institutions and the regime, both the President and his “adviser” were of course “legitimate” on 27 March. But what about from the point of view of the workers and the popular masses, for whom Informations Ouvrieres claims to stand? Have the masses not delivered their verdict in their millions to reject this President, his“adviser” and their whole regime as “illegitimate”?
Does the Informations Ouvrieres editorial team consider that the role of a party claiming to represent the workers is to go and “discuss” the “solution to the crisis” with representatives of a regime which the masses have rejected as “illegitimate”? Can one imagine the leader of a party claiming to represent the workers going to discuss with the Ben Ali clan in early January 2011 in Tunisia, in order to “find a political solution”? Can one imagine Lenin returning to Russia and going to discuss with the regime’s dignitaries which “prominent figure”could replace Nicolas II?
Are we exaggerating? According to the document promoted by Informations Ouvrieres, Louisa Hanoune said that [Saïd Bouteflika and Toufik] “informed me that they had proposed Liamine Zeroual as leader for the transition period. I opposed this, saying that Liamine Zeroual was President of the Republic, that he would not agree to be Prime Minister. I was against it, because I prefer and I am campaigning for this post to be filled by a civilian rather than a member of the military, moreover as the people are calling for”.
Let us repeat: 27 March was six weeks after the upsurge by the Algerian people in their millions, to the cry of “System, clear out!” Six weeks of mass mobilisation to ensure that the people finally regain their sovereignty, their right to decide for themselves.
Turning its back on this, Informations Ouvrieres is promoting a policy which consists of debating with the regime’s main dignitaries which “prominent figure” was most able to occupy the post of President of the Republic … within the framework of the existing institutions, which are still in place.
This policy was justified in the following terms by the PT Secretary General, according to her lawyers: “Every party has its political strategy. There are parties that content themselves with condemnation and statements, but the Workers’ Party thinks that participation in political activity means turning to the State institutions to find solutions”.
Obviously, Louisa Hanoune and her supporters have every right to advocate and assert such a policy. And let us repeat once again, nothing that has been done by Louisa Hanoune justifies the repression of which she is the victim.
But the fact that a current which claims to have a relationship to the Fourth International and Trotskyism is promoting this policy merits clarification. Already, some agencies are devoting themselves to using these facts in an attempt to tarnish “Trotskyism” and the Fourth International in general, and Comrade Lambert in particular. These forces are trying to demonstrate that, after all, Trotskyism is no better than all of the old failed parties of the labour movement: fine speeches, on the one hand, and in reality protecting the old system of exploitation and oppression.
This campaign has just one objective: disarming working men and women, activists and young people in Algeria and around the world, people who need a revolutionary party, who need the Fourth International and its programme to help their movement follow through to the end.
Truth and honesty oblige us to say that the policy that resulted in the 27 March meeting has absolutely nothing to do with the Fourth International and its stainless flag — or with what should be the policy of a genuine workers’ party, or with democracy.
— The OCRFI Secretariat, 23 October 2019
 Publishing the document on 2 October on his own and on the PT’s Facebook pages, PT official Youssef Ramdane Tazibt was challenged by an activist: “Do you mean to say that she took part in that meeting without the approval of the party’s Political Bureau?” He replied as follows: “She is the Secretary General, and checks are carried out retrospectively. She acted in accordance with the party statutes.”
 Although this secret meeting represents a step up one level, it forms part of the continuity of the PT’s policy as promoted by the CCI leadership and Informations Ouvrieres, notably since 22 February 2019 (in this regard, see the article titled “The policy of the leadership of the Algerian Workers Party in the course of the events”, in Issue No.14 of the OCRFI’s review, The Internationale). We shall come back to this later.