By Hana Saada

“This is an attack on national sovereignty”: Algeria warns French MP Mathilde Panot 

October 11, 2019 - 13:43

ALGERIA - Algerian Foreign Minister reacted to the controversy over the participation of the French MP Mathilde Panot at the popular movement in Algeria.

The Head of the Algerian diplomacy Sabri Boukadoum considered what the French MEP has committed as an "attack on national sovereignty".

Asked by the press on the sidelines of the opening of the National Conference on Bets for the Completion of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, with respect to the recent statements that were made by a member of the European Parliament on the popular movement and the political situation in Algeria, the Algerian Foreign Minister said that : “The principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries is a rule that Algeria will not depart from, and also rejects any external interference in its internal affairs from anyone, whether it is a civilian or a political person”.

He clarified that the French Mathilde Panot, vice-president of the parliamentary group of La France insoumise – the left-wing party founded by Jean-Luc Mélenchon , has never been questioned.
"There was no question," he stressed.

According to him, the French MP came to Algeria "with a tourist visa and tried to do things that have nothing to do with tourism".

"If an Algerian parliamentarian, a politician or even a journalist participates in demonstrations abroad, how will the host country respond? What will be the verdict of an Algerian citizen, MP or politician who might be arrested in marches in foreign countries?” wondered the Minister before continuing:" This is an attack on national sovereignty [...]. She is a parliamentarian in France and not in Algeria ".

Boukadoum asserted that the French MP is living in France and not in Algeria and its participation in Algerian protests may be considered as foreign interference and prejudice to the national sovereignty”.
"This was not an arrest," he highlighted, underlining that "the demonstrations all over the world are reserved for the citizens of the country and not foreigners."

As a reminder, Mathilde Panot and her companions were "immobilized" for hours by the Algerian police, while they tried to go to Bejaia. For the member, this action is not justified by any reason.

This move did not go unnoticed by the Algerians, who categorically rejected her interference in their country’s affairs.

“The yellow vests in France need your support more than the Algerian people,” they stressed, before adding: “Go to your country and support the demonstrators!”

In this vein, the Algerian official stressed that Algeria remains attached to its position and principle of "non-interference" in its political affairs and those of other countries, adding that this is one of the inalienable fundamentals of the Algerian diplomacy.

This event coincides with the Algerian Diplomacy Day celebrated in Algeria on October 8 of each year. The first president of independent Algeria Ahmed Ben Bella raised the colors of the Algerian flag at the UN headquarters in New York on October 8, 1962. One of the bases of Algeria’s foreign policy is the sanctity of the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs, while categorically rejecting any foreign interference in its internal affairs.

This is not the first time France interferes in Algeria’s internal affairs since the outbreak of the popular movement on February, 22nd, 2019. 

For his part, the Algerian Deputy Defense Minister, Army’s Chief of Staff, Ahmed Gaid Saleh, recently accused Paris of “indirectly interfering in Algerian affairs, ” stressing that France has no right to get involved, and it is up to the Algerians only to decide and through a democratic dialogue.

The Amy Chief lambasted, too, EU interference in the country’s affairs, vowing to flout external dictates. The remarks made on Saturday, September 28, by Marie Arena, President of the European Parliament's subcommittee on human rights, announcing a hearing with "a number of actors" of the 22 February movement in Algeria and the rejection of the holding of the presidential election, slated for December, 12th , were considered by the Army’ s Chief, Algerian politicians and the popular class as "a blatant attempt at interference" aimed at disrupting the holding of the 12 December presidential election. Her Statements sparked widespread controversy among the Algeria political and popular class, considering this move as an unjustified” provocation, especially since Algeria is preparing for important and decisive elections.

Mr. Gaïd Salah said in a speech delivered during his visit to the 2nd Military Region, to the officials and personnel of this region, that he had "repeatedly stressed that there are hostile foreign parties plotting against Algeria and trying to interfere in its internal affairs with the blatant complicity of the gang, inside, that we warn against playing with fire".  

"With regard to the desperate attempts aimed at Algeria's security and stability, these underhanded attempts by some foreign parties with the complicity of the gang from within, which are watching Algeria and trying to interfere in its internal affairs", the Lieutenant General stressed that the Algerian people "categorically refuse any interference in the internal affairs of their country and they do not accept any lessons from any party inviting these outrageous people to deal with the affairs and problems of their countries," the same source said.   

"These are desperate attempts whose main purpose is to undermine the stability and security of Algeria and its people, who led an unprecedented Liberation Revolution, thanks to which, and also to the sacrifices of a significant number of Shouhadas, they have regained their freedom and independence and now enjoy full sovereignty in their homeland," he added.  

For Lieutenant General, "this authentic and brave people has known, since the beginning of the crisis, how to expose these sneaky maneuvers and has expressed, through its peaceful marches whose civility has been welcomed by the whole world, its categorical refusal of any foreign interference in the internal affairs of its country, and it accepts no lessons from any part whatsoever, because it is sovereign in its decisions".

"I have also repeatedly stated that what is happening in Algeria is an internal matter that concerns only Algerians, and that the people, aligned alongside their army, will know how to deal with these maneuvers, which will be doomed to failure, especially as they have begun their way out of the crisis as soon as possible through the organization of free and transparent presidential elections, which will be held, with Allah's help, at their meeting scheduled for December 12," he said. 

On the occasion, he reiterated that "Algeria, with its prestigious history and its free people, remains sovereign in its decisions and that the authentic Algerian people, with all its fringes, categorically refuses any blatant interference in the country's affairs by any party. As I would like to tell these outraged people to care about their affairs and the problems of their countries, Algeria will know how to triumph and emerge from its crisis, strong by its people, and safe by its army.”

As a reaction to Army’s Chief remarks, the European Parliament rushed to respond, backtracking in support for the movement.

For its part, the Foreign Ministry has not issued a statement on this issue, explaining that “the EU MPs are hundreds and the ministry cannot respond to anyone who initiates comments on Algeria, which is already rejected”.


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