Mali, Libya crises to top agenda as Hollande visits Algeria

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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French President Francois Hollande heads to Algeria on Monday as the two nations, once bitter foes, work ever closer to resolve the political turmoil and jihadist threat in Mali and Libya.

The trip will be Hollande’s second to Algiers since a 2012 visit during which he recognised France’s century of “brutal” rule over the Algerian people which ended in a bloody independence war.

While some prickly issues remain between the two countries – such as Hollande’s refusal to apologise for crimes under colonial rule – the mutual concern over rampant jihadism in north Africa has taken the upper hand.

Algeria shares a border with Mali’s north, which is still fragile after a French-led operation in 2013 ousted jihadists who had seized the upper half of the west African nation.

While French troops patrol northern Mali, Algiers has mediated a peace accord between Mali’s main Tuareg-led rebel groups and Bamako which will be signed on June 20 and is aimed at bringing some stability to the region.

Algeria has also hosted talks between rival political factions from chaos-torn Libya – with which it also shares a long border.

The energy-rich north African nation is eager to see peace in its neighbourhood, and with France running counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane in five countries in the Sahel region – three of which border Algeria – Hollande and his Algerian counterpart will have plenty to discuss.

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