French President Emmanuel Macron has sought forgiveness from Algerians who fought for France during Algeria’s war of independence.
Macron admitted that France failed the Algerian-French soldiers known as the Harkis.
About 200,000 Harkis fought for France but only 42,000 were allowed to stay in France while others were abandoned in poor conditions back home in Algeria.
The ones left behind faced scourge in Algeria as they were labelled traitors and hunted to death.
Speaking to an audience of about 300 Harkis and their descendants in Paris on Monday, Macron made a pledge that his government would implement legal frameworks on reparations as well as a monument.
“In the name of France, I say to the Harkis and their children in a loud and solemn voice, that the Republic has contracted a debt towards them. To the combatants, I wish to express our gratitude.
“We will not forget. To the abandoned combatants, to their families who suffered the camps, the prison, the denial, I ask forgiveness, we will not forget.”
Macron’s speech on Monday was the latest attempt by France to build a bridge with Algeria after a tense relationship between both countries since the North African country’s independence in 1962.
In March, Macron conceded guilt in the torture and killing of a prominent Algerian activist by its Army more than 60 years ago.
Reacting to the promise by Macron, Serge Carel – a former Harki – thanked the president.
“It seems that for the first time, a firm desire for the truth is guiding our current president. Thank you for your attention, long live the Republic, long live France.”