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Algeria at 60: reflecting on history is good, but looking forward is better

20 8 27

This 5 July marks 60 years since Algeria got its independence from France, after an occupation that lasted over 13 decades, from 1830 until 1962, only to end with the French being defeated in a brutal liberation battle. When the Evian Accords were signed on 18 March 1962, in which France agreed to hold a referendum on Algerian independence, on 3 July that year, there was no certainty that independence was inevitable, even at that late moment.

On 31 March, two weeks after the agreement was signed, a French commando assassinated the mayor of Evian-les-Bains, Camille Blanc, for his lobbying to host the political negations in his town on the French side of Lake Geneva. The poor pacifist's murder was a sign of how sensitive the Algerian issue to the French political elite was.

During the occupation, Algeria was known as "French Algeria", representing the crux of French colonies around the world, and giving it up was never imagined by the French colonialists. The country across the Mediterranean became a French department, starting from 1830 some three decades before Nice, in southern France, became French. French colonial political elite used to brag about this by saying that "the Mediterranean runs through France just as the river Seine runs through Paris" meaning Algeria is an integral part of French territory.

On 3 July, Algerians went to the polls to vote for independence by answering one question "Do you want Algeria to become an independent state, co-operating with France under the conditions defined in the declarations of 19 March 1962?" Those declarations were the Evian Accords signed four months earlier. Nearly six million Algerians voted yes........

© Middle East Monitor

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