Algeria has recalled its ambassador to Paris in protest of remarks attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron, who reportedly spoke of “a political-military system” in power in Algiers.
The Algerian presidency expressed its “rejection of any interference in its internal affairs” and mentioned “unchallenged remarks” the president reportedly made as “inadmissible” and “irresponsible.”
In response, Algiers decided to “immediately summon” its ambassador, Mohamed Antar-Daoud, for consultation.
Algerian media widely circulated statements attributed to Macron published by French newspaper Le Monde on Saturday, calling them “biting” and “misconduct.”
According to the paper, the president was critical of his former colony during a meeting Thursday with descendants of protagonists of Algeria’s 1954-62 war of independence.
Macron also invoked a “completely rewritten official history” that is “not based on truths” but on “a discourse based on a hatred of France,” noting that it stems from Algeria’s ruling classes and not society as a whole.
Relations between Paris and Algiers were already strained. The previous day, the French ambassador to Algeria, François Gouyette, had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry in protest of Paris’s decision to halve the number of visas for Algerians seeking to enter France.
For students and businessmen, the move would have “no impact,” but the idea was to “annoy people” from the ruling elite who “used to apply for visas without any problems,” Le Monde quoted Emmanuel Macron as saying.
Last week, the French government said it was cutting the number of visas available to Maghreb countries including Algeria, referring to its refusal to take back illegal migrants.
Macron also reportedly described the Algerian system as “tired” and “weakened” by the Hirak, the pro-democracy movement that led to the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019.
He refers to “a good dialogue” with current President Abdelmajid Tebboune, adding that his counterpart is “trapped in a very hard system.”
The website 24H Algérie accused the French president of spreading familiar themes of the French political right and the extreme right, and rejected any recognition of France’s “massive colonial crimes.” The privately owned El Watan newspaper devoted its Sunday front page to “Macron’s misconduct.”
The comments attributed to the French president also caused an uproar on social media, with many linking Macron’s statements to the upcoming presidential campaign in France.
In September, Emmanuel Macron apologized to Algerians who fought alongside the French colonial power in Algeria’s war of independence and were then massacred and ostracized as traitors.
Since taking office in 2017, the French leader has taken steps to resolve issues related to France’s colonial rule, which began in 1830 and ended in 1962 after a bloody Algerian war.
In July 2020, the remains of 24 Algerian resistance fighters killed in the 19th century were returned to Algeria.
In 2018, France officially recognized the army’s systemic use of torture in the 1954-62 Algerian War. President Macron visited the widow of anti-colonial activist Maurice Audin, who was tortured and killed by the French army in 1957, to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the French Republic.