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France resumes development aid to Mali

Paris has officially resumed development aid to Mali after suspending it in the wake of a March 2012 coup that triggered a rebellion in the north and French military intervention, according to France's development minister.

"We stopped aid for development for months following the coup and now, today, we are renewing (that aid)," Pascal Canfin said on Monday during a visit to a hospital in Mopti, central Mali, built using funds from France and Belgium.

Mopti was the scene of clashes between Malian troops and Islamists in January before the start of the French-led campaign to rid northern Mali of armed Islamist groups.

Some 150 million euros ($200 million) will be unfrozen, Canfin said. "In Timbuktu there is only water and electricity (left) for a few days. So we have to quickly get the country back on its feet," said Canfin, who will meet Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore on Tuesday.

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, announced Monday that the EU would host a donor conference in mid-May in Brussels to reinforce efforts to stabilize the west African former French colony.

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French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron

French forces "tortured and murdered" Algerian freedom fighter Ali Boumendjel during his country's war for independence, President Emmanuel Macron admitted on Tuesday, officially reappraising a death that was covered up as a suicide.

French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron
Malika, the widow of Ali Boumendjel, pictured in 2001. Photo: Stefan Fferberg/AFP

Macron made the admission “in the name of France” during a meeting with Boumendjel’s grandchildren.

The move comes after Macron in January refused to issue an official apology for abuses committed during the occupation of Algeria – instead, he agreed to form a “truth commission” as recommended by a report commissioned by the government to shed light on France’s colonial past.

Atrocities committed by both sides during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence continue to strain relations between the countries.

Boumendjel, a nationalist and lawyer, was arrested during the battle of Algiers by the French army, “placed incommunicado, tortured, and then killed on 23 March 1957,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

“Ali Boumendjel did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then killed,” Macron told Boumendjel’s grandchildren, according to the statement.

It is not the first time the real cause of death was acknowledged.

In 2000, the former head of French intelligence in Algiers Paul Aussaresses confessed to ordering Boumendjel’s death and disguising the murder as a suicide, according to the statement.

It added that Macron on Tuesday had also reiterated his desire to give families the opportunity to find out the truth about this chapter of history.

Last month, Boumendjel’s niece Fadela Boumendjel-Chitour denounced what she called the “devastating” lie the French state had told about her uncle.

French historian Benjamin Stora, who wrote the government-commissioned report, has said there is a “never-ending memory war” between the two countries.

The report has been described by the Algerian government as “not objective” and falling “below expectations.”

During his 2017 election campaign, Macron – the first president born after the colonial period – declared that the occupation of Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

He has since said there was “no question of showing repentance” or of “presenting an apology” for abuses committed in the North African country.

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