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Algerians celebrate Independence Day recalling ‘legendary fight’ against French colonialism

Algeria’s quest to gain freedom from France left 1.5M people dead affecting every household.

Algerians are celebrating their 59th Independence Day on Monday, recalling the heavy price that they paid to gain freedom from the French colonial rule.

The French rule in the North African country with a Mediterranean coastline ended on July 5, 1962. The struggle against occupation left around one and a half million people dead, affecting every household in the country.

Even 60 years later, France is yet to act against perpetrators of genocide, torture, murder or even to compensate the country for such actions committed by its forces.

“Algerians are very proud of their legendary fight and armed struggle against the French,” Abdennour Toumi, an expert in North African studies at the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM), told Anadolu Agency.

They braved human atrocities committed by a nation which calls itself a champion of human rights and equality, he added.

Abdelmadjid Bouguedra, the son of a war veteran who fought against the French rule, told Anadolu Agency that his father joined the struggle at age 16 and was arrested, taken to prison and tortured.

“My father used to narrate the travails of Algerians during the 132 years of occupation. But unfortunately, the new generation is unaware of their sacrifices for independence,” he said.

“More efforts are needed such that people become more aware about the necessity to preserve this legacy that our forefathers left for us.”

Toumi said the generations born after independence are now facing a socioeconomic dilemma at home, looking for a better life abroad.

“The real question for these generations is not really a question of collective memory and repentance, but a matter of better life,” he said.

Economy, political scenario

Touching on the current political climate in Algeria with the appointment of Finance Minister Ayman Ben Abdelrahman to form a new government, Toumi said the new government will be run by technocrats, focusing on the economy.

He said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune wants to continue his agenda as both he and Abdelrahman are graduates of same Algerian Ivy school, l’Ecole Nationale d’Admnistration (l’ENA).

Toumi said that since no party got a comfortable majority, a government will be formed with the support of the president, and a “presidential alliance” is on the horizon.

Algeria’s ruling party the National Liberation Front (FLN) came in first with general elections held on June 12, securing 98 of parliament’s 407 seats, according to the final results.

Algeria held the elections for the first time since the resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019, who ruled the country for two decades.

Imad Atoui, a senior research associate at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs, a think-tank at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, said Algerians are hopeful for the future, but the process needs time.

“Coronavirus made it difficult for the first government to meet expectations of the people, though all ministers were technocrats,” he said, arguing that despite Algerians’ concerns on the political transition, their main focus is to survive the economic crisis stemmed from collapse of oil prices and the pandemic.

Algeria-Turkey relations

Touching upon the Turkish-Algerian relations, Toumi said Turkey in recent years has emerged as a “solid partner for Algeria.”

He said the rapprochement between Algeria and Turkey is not being welcomed in Paris, which feels it is losing its backyard.

In January 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Algeria and held talks on aspects of bilateral cooperation.

Atoui said Algerians consider Turks as their brothers since they both share a long history since the Ottoman Empire.

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