Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune seems to have received French support for his policy, especially his constitutional amendments efforts, observers have noted.
Paris’s position and opinion on the major events taking place in Algeria are important for the country’s authorities who often expect its support.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s met on Thursday, during a two-day visit to Algeria, with Tebboune and Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum.
Algeria is nearing an important stage, he told the press, in reference to the referendum on the constitutional amendment, scheduled for November 1.
Tebboune has expressed willingness to amend state institutions, bolster governance, and balance between powers and freedoms, he affirmed.
The FM further stressed that Algerians alone can attain the aspirations of the popular protest movement.
It seemed evident that the French official avoided explicitly supporting the Hirak’s demand to change the regime, knowing that it would irk the new authority.
The Hirak suspended its protests in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past weeks, there have been several attempts to revive demonstrations but the security forces apprehended and imprisoned protesters on charges of “encouraging unlicensed protests” and “jeopardizing national unity.”
Le Drian was asked on Friday about Paris’s stance on jailing Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni, 49, who is editor of the Casbah Tribune news site, correspondent for French-language channel TV5 Monde, and worker at press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
He said France adheres to freedom of press and to ensuring the security of journalists. “Media freedom is a fundamental right that shall be protected.”
Human rights activists and Drareni’s advocates noted that the FM’s remarks didn’t include condemnation of his imprisonment although France knows that he was jailed for being a journalist.
Drareni was arrested on March 29 on charges of “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity” after covering demonstrations by the Hirak protest movement.
In his statements on the bilateral economic cooperation, Le Drian stressed that French companies in Algeria were numerous and contributed to the dynamism of the economy and the job creation process.
He hailed the reforms carried out by Tebboune to diversify the economy and ease measures and support emerging and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Algerian economists don’t agree with France. They pointed out that the government, under Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, does not have a clear plan to diversify the economy, except for the old promises to end “dependence on oil and gas.”