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Algeria appoints war veteran to research France's colonial history in rapprochement efforts

Tebboune appointed the historian [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 July, 2020

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Algeria's President Abdelmajdid Tebboune has appointed a veteran historian to look into France's colonial history in the country, in an effort to normalise relations.
Algeria appointed a historian to work jointly with a French historian in resolving the two countries' historic issues over the latter’s colonial past.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced the news to local media on Sunday evening in Algiers that the historian who was designated, Dr. Abdelmadjid Chikhi, also served in the country's war of independence against France.

Chikhi is the director general of the National Centre for Algerian Archives and was appointed on 29 April as an adviser to President Tebboune in charge of national archives and memory.

"[Paris] appointed a well-known historian and his counterpart is Doctor Abdelmadjid Chikhi who is responsible for the national archives and a specialist. We communicated his name to [France]," said the president.

Chikhi is a veteran of the War of Independence (1954-1962).

Tebboune recently confirmed that the two historians will jointly carry out a memorial work of "truth", directly under the supervision of the presidents of the two countries.

"We wish that they accomplish their work in the truth, the serenity and appeasement to settle problems which poison our political relations, [and] the business climate," he said.

"We must face these painful events to start again on profitable relations with the two countries, in particular on the economic level."

War guilt and apologies

Algeria is waiting for an apology for France's colonial occupation of the North African country, the president said, expressing hope that Emmanuel Macron would build on recent conciliatory overtures.

A global re-examination of the legacy of colonialism has been unleashed after the May killing of unarmed Black American George Floyd by a white police officer, which sparked mass protests around the world.

"We have already had half-apologies. The next step is needed... we await it," Tebboune said Saturday in an interview with news channel France 24.

"I believe that with President Macron, we can go further in the appeasement process... he is a very honest man, who wants to improve the situation."

France's 132 years of colonial rule in Algeria, and the brutal eight-year war that ended it, have left a legacy of often prickly relations between the two countries.

In what has been seen as a thaw in ties, Algeria on Friday received the skulls of 24 resistance fighters decapitated during the colonial period.

The skulls will be laid to rest in the martyrs' section of the capital's El Alia cemetery on Sunday - the 58th anniversary of Algeria's independence - according to media reports.

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