French presidential candidate praised for admitting ‘barbaric’ effects of colonialism, as opponent Le Pen says it has done a ‘great deal’ for Algeria
Algeria’s foreign minister has called French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron a “friend” of the country, after the centrist candidate called France’s colonisation a “crime against humanity”.
In an interview during a visit to Algiers in February, the 39-year-old former economy minister said French actions in Algeria, which achieved independence in 1962 after eight years of war, were “genuinely barbaric”.
Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told reporters that Macron “is our friend… he’s a friend of Algeria and that’s the truth”.
Macron, who is favourite to beat far right leader Marine Le Pen in next month’s presidential run-off vote, has since sought to soothe tensions caused by his remarks, after facing criticism domestically.
“I am sorry to have offended you, to have hurt you,” Macron said in February, after his initial comments were criticised by French nationals who had to leave Algeria in 1962.
“But we must face this common, complex past if we want to move on and get along,” he said, alluding to historical links between Algeria and France.
An estimated 1.5 million Algerians were killed in the bloody battle for independence, eventually won in 1962, according to Algiers. French historians say 400,000 died in the conflict.
During his apology, Macron also asked the audience to applaud the “harkis”, the Algerian soldiers who fought for the French during the war of independence, and were ultimately awarded French nationality.
Macron, who is looking to become France’s youngest ever head of state, beat Le Pen during Sunday’s first round of voting. A run-off between the two takes place on 7 May.
Le Pen last month told France’s BMFTV news channel that colonisation had done “a great deal” for Algeria.