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Algeria recalls envoy to France after ‘inadmissible interference’

French daily Le Monde reported that President Macron made critical remarks about Algeria during a meeting.

Algeria has accused its former colonial ruler France of “genocide” and recalled its ambassador from Paris in anger over what it said were “inadmissible” comments attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron.

The immediate recall of Algeria’s ambassador from France for “consultations” was announced on Saturday evening in a statement from the Algerian presidency.

The move also comes amid tension over a French decision to sharply reduce the number of visas it grants to citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

“Following remarks that have not been denied, which several French sources have attributed by name to [Macron], Algeria expresses its categorical rejection of the inadmissible interference in its internal affairs,” the statement said, adding that the French comments were “an intolerable affront” to Algerians who died fighting French colonialism.

“The crimes of colonial France in Algeria are innumerable and fit the strictest definitions of genocide,” its statement said.

French daily Le Monde had reported that Macron made critical remarks about Algeria during a meeting on Thursday with French Algerian descendants of the Harkis, Algerians who fought on the French side during Algeria’s war of independence.

According to Le Monde, Macron said Algeria was ruled by a “political-military system” and described the country’s “official history” as having been “totally re-written” to something “not based on truths” but “on a discourse of hatred towards France”.

The paper added that he made clear that he was not referring to Algerian society as a whole but to the ruling elite.

Salah Abdelkrim, right, was awarded the ‘Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur’ by French President Emmanuel Macron during a ceremony in memory of the Harkis, Algerians who helped the French Army in the Algerian War of Independence, on September 20 [File: Gonzalo Fuentes/AFP]

Visa tensions

France said the decision to reduce visas for Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, which it announced last Tuesday, was made necessary by the former colonies’ failure to do enough to allow asylum seekers rejected by France to return.

On Wednesday, the Algerian foreign ministry summoned French Ambassador Francois Gouyette and handed him a “formal protest” note concerning the visa ruling.

It called the visa reduction an “unfortunate act” that caused “confusion and ambiguity as to its motivation and its scope”.

Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita has described the French move as “unjustified”.

Tunisian President Kais Saied expressed disappointment with the decision in a telephone call with Macron Saturday, his office said, adding that the French leader had said it could be revised.

Saturday’s decision is the second time that Algeria has recalled an ambassador from France.

Algiers also recalled its ambassador in May 2020 after French media broadcast a documentary about the Hirak Movement, which emerged out of the popular protests that broke out in Algeria in 2019.

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