Algerian government pressures Paris to silence political dissidents in exile

A French TV channel censors Ferhat Mehenni

photo_camera PHOTO/AFP - Combination of images of French President Emmanuel Macron and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune

The French television channel, CNEWS, had announced an interview with the president of the Movement for Self-Determination of Kabylia (MAK), Ferhat Mehenni, on the programme Face 脿 Rioufol, but the channel decided to cancel it at the beginning of the programme, despite the fact that Mehenni himself was already in the television studio. 

No explanation has been forthcoming from the channel's management, although the politician has branded the decision as "censorship". According to Mehenni, Algeria threatened the French government with the cancellation of the visit to Algiers by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, scheduled for 9 and 10 October. During this trip, Paris will seek to strengthen relations with the North African country, especially in the energy sector. According to the Elys茅e, a possible increase in Algerian gas supplies to France will be announced "in the near future". In the midst of the energy crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine, European countries are trying to seek and consolidate energy alliances on the eve of winter.

Mehenni, presented in the programme as a 'political refugee and president of the interim government of Kabylia', was to address in the interview 'the future of the Kabylia community, its place in France and the question of Islamism'. However, the Algerian government, given the difficult energy situation in Europe, has put pressure on Paris to silence political dissent on the continent.

Since the beginning of the war, Algerian gas has emerged as one of the main alternatives to Russian fuel. In recent months, Algiers has received visits from the Italian and French authorities and even the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, who assured that Algeria was a "loyal and reliable" partner. However, analysts fear that Abdelmadjid Tebboune's government will use the gas to exert political pressure on Europe, as Russia has done for years. 

Mehenni calls for sanctions against Algiers

At the same time, the MAK president has informed his Moroccan partners that he is preparing a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking him to accept the sanctions against Algeria proposed by several congressmen and senators.

Mehenni hopes that US policymakers, including President Joe Biden, will support the sanctions. The MAK leader claims that Kabylia is suffering an "official genocide" called "Operation Kabylia Zero" since the fires started in August 2021, which have already destroyed two-thirds of Kabylia and killed more than 500 people.

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Mehenni adds that "hundreds of peaceful independence activists are arrested, tortured and imprisoned, mostly without trial". The politician also recalls that this repression is taking place while Algeria "supports the terrorists of Hamas and the Polisario Front under the pretext of defending the self-determination of peoples".

In the letter, Mehenni, like many US congressmen, also condemns the military ties between Algeria and Russia.

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