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The New Arab Staff

Algerian opposition rejects Macron’s ‘imperialist’ statements of support for Tebboune

Macron praised Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tabboune [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 November, 2020

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Statements of support by Emmanuel Macron for Algerian leader Abdelmadjid Tabboune have caused outrage in Algeria, with opposition leaders accusing the French president of ‘imperialist’ interference.

Recent statements by French President Emmanuel Macron regarding Algeria have caused outrage in the country, with opposition leaders and activists accusing the French leader - who has also made controversial declarations on Islam in recent days - of interfering in Algeria’s internal affairs.

On Friday, Macron gave an exclusive interview to the Paris-based pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique in which he praised current Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s “courage”, adding that he would do “everything possible” to help Tebboune during what he described as Algeria’s “transition period”.

Tebboune, 74, who is currently recuperating from a coronavirus infection at a hospital in Germany, became Algeria’s president in December 2019 following a controversial election that was boycotted by opposition groups, including the Hirak movement whose protests forced Algeria’s ailing long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign earlier in 2019.

Since Tebboune’s assumption of power, many journalists and Hirak activists have been arrested and given prison sentences after trials widely criticized by human rights groups.

Macron noted this in his interview but appeared to justify the actions of the Algerian government, saying, “you can’t change a state, its institutions, and the structures of power in the space of a few short few months.”

Read also: France's Macron accused of spreading 'fake news' about Muslim girls

The French president added that had reached an agreement with Tebboune for a “historic reconciliation” regarding France’s 130 years of colonial rule in Algeria, without the need for any apology for the crimes of that period.

Macron was accused of “lying” by Mohand Omar Benelhadj, the secretary general of Algeria’s National Organization of Moudjahedin (ONM) which represents veterans of the country’s 1954-1962 War of Independence against France.

"Macron is a liar when he spoke on behalf of President Tebboune and said that he had agreed with him to turn the page on the past. Like all previous French presidents, Macron still dreams that Algeria and its people are servants to France, but this dream has passed forever," Benelhadj said.

Karim Tabbou, a prominent Hirak activist and leader of the Social Democratic Union, called Macron’s statements “an intervention in the internal debate in Algeria and an attempt to directly influence the secret struggles which not only are preventing democratic change but are putting the future of entire generations at risk”.

Macron was also criticised by Mohcine Belabbas, the head of the secularist Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) party, who on Facebook accused the French president of “permitting himself to give certificates of legitimacy to the leaders of indigenous peoples”.

Belabbas said that Macron wasn’t “simply intervening in our country’s affairs, but managing a roadmap for it”.

Abdelrazzak Makri, the leader of the moderate Islamist Movement for a Peaceful Society (MSP) party said that Macron “wouldn’t have had the courage to support the Algerian president in an internal matter if the Algerian state hadn’t been in a weak position and unable to respond to [Macron].”

Makri accused Macron of having a “brazen imperialist mentality”, and suggested that the French leader was supporting Tebboune “against the Algerian people”.

In addition to his recent controversial statements on Islam, which led to widespread calls for a boycott of French goods in Muslim countries, Macron this month called the 2011 Arab Spring a “return of religion in politics”, saying that it was erroneous to view it as a “liberation”.

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