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France must apologise for colonial past, Algeria’s president says

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.

France must apologise for colonial past, Algeria's president says
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune meets with the visiting French Foreign Minister (unseen) in the capital Algiers on January 21, 2020. Photo: AFP

A global reexamination of the legacy of colonialism has been unleashed by the May killing of unarmed African 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,” President Abdelmadjid 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.

Tebboune said an apology from France would “make it possible to cool tensions and create a calmer atmosphere for economic and cultural relations”, especially for the more than six million Algerians who live in France.

In December 2019, Macron said that “colonialism was a grave mistake” and called for turning the page on the past.

During his presidential election campaign, he had created a storm by calling France's colonisation of Algeria a “crime against humanity”.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged countries to make amends for “centuries of violence and discrimination”.

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POLITICS

Elisabeth Borne named France’s new prime minister

Élisabeth Borne has been named as France’s new prime minister, making her the second woman to hold the position in French history, the presidential palace has confirmed.

Elisabeth Borne named France's new prime minister

Élisabeth Borne will be France’s next prime minister, making her the second woman to hold the position in French history.

The Elysee said that Borne would now be charged with forming a government.

After having long ties to the Socialist Party, Borne joined President Macron’s party La République en Marche and became Minister of transport in May 2017.

In July 2019, she became minister of ecological and solidarity transition, and the following year, she was appointed labour minister under Jean Castex’s government.

She began her career in politics in the 1980s, when she worked for the Ministry of Public Works.

Borne has been a favourite for the role for several reasons, namely her ties to the political left, as well as her pro-environment credentials and long career in both public and private sectors.

Nominating what would be only the second female prime minister in modern French history is sure to generate positive headlines.

The last woman premier was Edith Cresson, who headed the cabinet from 1991-1992 under president Francois Mitterrand. Speaking with France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday, she said that the new female PM will “need lots of courage” as the environment remains “macho.”

Macron accepted the resignation of Castex after the pair spoke at the Elysée Palace on Monday afternoon.

READ MORE: What does a French Prime Minister actually do?

Previously Castex told French daily Le Parisien he prepared a “very simple, very classic” letter of departure, saying he is leaving the office “without remorse, nor regret.”

The departure of Castex, who was a surprise choice for the role in 2020, and the reshuffle will enable newly re-elected Macron to reshape the cabinet ahead of crucial parliamentary polls in June.

The centrist will need a parliamentary majority to push through his domestic agenda following his re-election, with a new left-wing alliance and the far-right threatening to block his programme.

Those criteria reflect his desire to focus on schools and health in the early part of his second term, as well as the climate crisis which he has promised to prioritise.

READ MORE: French phrase of the day: Locataire de Matignon

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