Algeria celebrates 60 years of independence from France

Memories of violence during 132-year occupation continue to harm ties between the countries

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Algeria will celebrate 60 years of independence from France with a huge military parade on Tuesday.

The North African country earned its independence with the signing of the Evian Accords, following an eight-year war, in March 1962.

But memories of violence during the 132-year occupation continue to harm ties between the two countries.

Algeria broke free from colonial rule on July 5, 1962 — days after 99.72 per cent of Algerians voted for independence.

Algerians gather in the Kasbah of the capital Algiers to celebrate on July 2, 1962, a day after the self-determination referendum on the independence of their country. AFP

On Friday, a 16-kilometre stretch of a major road in Algiers was closed so the army could carry out final rehearsals for its parade, the first in 33 years.

The closure caused huge tailbacks on roads leading to the eastern suburbs of the capital.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is to preside over the parade, hosting several foreign dignitaries including Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Tunisia's Kais Saied and Niger's Mohamed Bazoum.

The government has even commissioned a logo, a circle of 60 stars containing military figures and equipment, to mark "a glorious history and a new era".

Algeria's war of independence left hundreds of thousands of people dead.

Sixty years later, despite a string of gestures by French President Emmanuel Macron, France has ruled out any form of apology for the colonial period.

"There's no way we can forget or erase the human genocide, the cultural genocide and the identity genocide of which colonial France remains guilty," said Salah Goudjil, speaker of the Algerian parliament's upper house, in an interview published by newspaper L'Expression on Monday.

French-Algerian ties hit a low late last year after Mr Macron reportedly questioned whether Algeria had existed as a nation before the French invasion and accused its "political-military system" of rewriting history and fomenting "hatred towards France".

Algeria withdrew its ambassador in response, but the two sides appear to have mended ties since.

Mr Macron and Mr Tebboune confirmed in a June 18 phone call their desire to "deepen" relations, and Mr Tebboune invited his French counterpart to visit Algiers.

Updated: July 05, 2022, 4:12 AM
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