Algerian president chastises France over colonial misdeeds

26th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

ALGIERS, Aug 25 (AFP) - France should recognize the wrongs it committed during its colonial rule over Algeria from 1830 to 1962, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Thursday.

ALGIERS, Aug 25 (AFP) - France should recognize the wrongs it committed during its colonial rule over Algeria from 1830 to 1962, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Thursday.

Speaking in northeastern Setif, where French forces shot dead thousands of protesters in Algeria in May 1945, Bouteflika said: "We remind our friends in France, those whose conscience is still alive, that they have no choice but to recognize that they committed wrongs against the Algerian people from 1830."

In Setif at the start of a campaign for a 'Yes' vote in a referendum on September 29, he told a large crowd gathered in the city's stadium: "[The French] have no choice but to recognize that they tortured, killed, exterminated from 1830 to 1962 ... that they wanted to annihilate the Algerian identity [so that] we were neither Berbers, nor Arabs, nor Muslims, we had neither culture, nor language, nor history."

The Setif demonstrations were launched not only to celebrate the end of World War II, but also to press new demands on France.

Bouteflika has repeatedly denounced a controversial French law passed in February referring to "the positive role of the French presence overseas, notably in north Africa."

His broadsides against France come despite considerable improvements in bilateral relations in recent years, especially compared with the period immediately after Algeria's bitterly fought, eight-year war of independence.

In 2003, French President Jacques Chirac became the first French leader in more than 40 years to pay an official visit to Algeria.

Algeria and France are due to sign a friendship treaty by the end of the year.

The September referendum will consider a new partial amnesty that Bouteflika proposes offering to Islamic extremists who fought in Algeria's civil war, which has claimed some 150,000 lives since 1992 but has largely abated.

The draft would ban the "exploitation" of Islam for political purposes, while providing for legal proceedings to be dropped against those rebels who surrendered to the authorities after January 13, 2000.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Algeria, colonialism, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Chirac

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