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Africa

Protests as France marks Algerian war peace anniversary

media The Rivesaltes camp, where the harkis were held after the end of the Algerian war AFP

Algerians who collaborated with France during their country's independence war protested at official commemoration of the accord that ended the conflict on Saturday and complained that the government has "abandoned" them. They are not alone in criticising the first-ever ceremonies to mark the end of hostilities.

About 150-200 "harkis", as they are known, protested Rivesaltes, the site of a camp in south-west France where he, his family and hundreds of others were held in poor conditions after fleeing Algeria when the war ended in 1962.

"François Hollande wished to insult us," harki-rights campaigner Hocine Louanchi told the AFP news agency, referring to the president's planned presence at a ceremony in Paris to pay tribute to those killed in the conflict on the anniversary of the signing of the Evian accords on 19 March 1962.

Many of those who remained were killed, accused of betraying the independence struggle, although some acted after torture or blackmail by French forces.

Louanchi called on Hollande to keep a campaign promise to recognise that France "abandoned" the harkis after then-president Charles De Gaulle signed the Evian accords with the National Liberation Front.

Groups claiming to represent pieds noirs, Europeans who fled Algeria to France, and ex-servicemen have also condemned this year's decision to officially mark the signing.

Right-wing opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy this week accused Hollande of picking a divisive date because "some people consider it a military defeat for France".

The choice means that "there is a good and a bad side of history and France was on the bad side", he said.

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