July 5: Algeria marks 60 years of independence from France


Algeria marks 60 years of independence from France today (Tuesday) with a huge military parade.

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

On July 5 of the same year, days after 99.72 percent voted for independence in a referendum, Algeria finally broke free from colonial rule – but memories of the 132-year occupation continue to mar its ties with France.

Authorities on Friday closed a 16-kilometre (10-mile) stretch of a major artery in Algiers for the army to carry out final rehearsals for its parade, the first in 33 years.

Meanwhile, the closure has caused huge tailbacks on roads leading to the eastern suburbs of the capital.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is to preside over the parade, hosting several foreign dignitaries including Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Tunisia’s Kais Saied and Niger’s Mohamed Bazoum. The government has even commissioned a logo – a circle of 60 stars containing military figures and equipment – to mark “a glorious history and a new era”.

“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 said 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”.

In reaction to that outburst, Algeria withdrew its ambassador, but the two sides appear to have mended ties since.