• February 3, 2023

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Algeria has marked 60 years of independence from France with a huge military parade, its first in decades and a pardon of 14-thousand prisoners.

During the celebration on Tuesday, Algerian flags flew from buildings across the country, and patriotic songs rang out from loudspeakers.

Warplanes whizzed overhead, just as armored vehicles rolled through central Algiers, during the parade.

The North African country won its independence following a grueling eight-year war, which ended with the signing in March 1962 of the Evian Accords.

Opposition figures and pro-democracy activists called the elaborate celebrations an effort to distract attention from Algeria’s economic and political troubles by glorifying the army

Previous presidents abandoned holding military parades, but President Abdelmadjid Tebboune revived the tradition for this anniversary, for the first time in 38 years.

He presided over the parade, hosting several foreign dignitaries including Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Tunisia’s Kais Saied and Niger’s Mohamed Bazoum.

The government also 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 dead, but six decades on, 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 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.

 

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