Macron Rules Out Apology For Colonial Abuses In Algeria

LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron has ruled out issuing an official apology for abuses in Algeria, his office said Wednesday, ahead of a major report on how France is facing up to its colonial past in the country.

There will “no repentance nor apologies” for the occupation of Algeria or the bloody eight-year war that ended French rule, Macron’s office said, adding that the French leader would instead take part in “symbolic acts” aimed at promoting reconciliation.

The atrocities committed by both sides during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence continue to strain relations between the two countries six decades later.

Macron, the first president born after the colonial period, has gone further than any of his predecessors in recognising French crimes in Algeria.

Later Wednesday, a historian commissioned by Macron last year with assessing “the progress made by France on the memory of the colonisation of Algeria and the Algerian war,” will submit his findings.

Benjamin Stora’s report is not however expected to recommend that France issue an apology but rather suggest ways of shedding light on one of the darker chapters of French history and propose ways of promoting healing.

The presidency said Macron would take part in three days of commemorations next year marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Algerian war.

Each day will be dedicated to a different group that suffered in the conflict, presidential aides added.

– Simmering resentment –

No other event in France’s colonial history had as deep an impact on the national psyche as the Algerian war.

More than one million French conscripts saw service in the conflict, which claimed hundreds of thousands of Algerian lives.

After it ended hundreds of thousands of European settlers fled to France, a wrenching exodus that sowed the seeds of lingering anti-Arab sentiment.

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Tens of thousands of Algerians who fought alongside French forces also crossed the Mediterranean after the war to escape nationalist lynch mobs.

While campaigning for president in 2017 Macron caused a sensation by declaring that the colonisation of Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

A year later, he acknowledged that France had instigated a system that facilitated torture during the Algerian war.

It was a rare admission in a country where the colonisation of Algeria was long seen as benign.

“In French political culture, anti-colonialism has always been an extremely fringe movement,” historian Sylvie Thenault told AFP.

“There is a profound conviction that the French Republic is a force for good that thwarts the possibility of criticising what is done in the name of the Republic,” she added.

During the war French forces cracked down on independence fighters and sympathisers. A French general later admitted to the use of torture.

Algerian nationalists also targeted civilians and mistreated prisoners during a complex conflict characterised by guerrilla warfare.

France’s actions in Algeria left a deep well of bitterness and resentment that has been blamed by some experts for the drift of some second- and third-generation immigrants into extremism.

In a speech in October on combatting radicalisation, Macron acknowledged that France’s colonial past and the Algerian war had “fed resentment” against France.

Speaking to Jeune Afrique magazine in November, Macron described France as being “locked in a sort of pendulum between two stances: apologising and repentance on the one hand and denial and pride on the other.

“As for myself I would like truth and reconciliation,” he said.

AFP

Algeria To Roll Out Russian COVID-19 Vaccine In January

A nurse prepares dose of the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) Covid-19 vaccine for a patient at a clinic in Moscow on December 30, 2020, as the country started its vaccination campaign for people aged 60 and over, to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP
A nurse prepares dose of the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) Covid-19 vaccine for a patient at a clinic in Moscow on December 30, 2020, as the country started its vaccination campaign for people aged 60 and over, to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

 

Algeria will begin rolling out the contentious Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia in January, the government said late Wednesday.

The country had signed a “mutual agreement with a Russian laboratory for acquisition of the coronavirus vaccine from January”, said Communications Minister Ammar Belhimer.

Authorities will receive an initial shipment of 500,000 doses, finance ministry director general Abdelaziz Fayed told local broadcaster Echorouk.

The announcement came a day after the elderly president of the North African nation, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, returned home following a two-month absence in Germany where he was treated for a coronavirus infection.

Moscow announced the registration of Sputnik V back in August after it had completed just the second phase of trials on under 100 volunteers.

It has raised concerns from scientists at home and abroad who said the decision was premature without wider clinical trials and the publication of scientific results.

Russia began its own vaccination campaign on December 5, beginning with at-risk workers.

Some analysts have viewed the fast-track registration and the early launch of mass vaccination as a bid by Russia to bolster geopolitical influence.

Algeria has recorded nearly 100,000 Covid-19 infections and more than 2,750 deaths from the disease, according to the health ministry.

 

AFP

UNESCO Lists Couscous As Intangible World Heritage

Lamb Couscous.

 

Couscous, the Berber dish beloved across northern Africa’s Maghreb region and beyond, Wednesday joined the UN list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

The countries that submitted the listing to UNESCO — Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania — may have their differences, but their common love of the grain staple runs deep.

“Couscous, present at every social or cultural event, is at once ordinary and special,” their joint presentation argued.

“Ordinary because of the frequency of its use in a family setting, and special because of the unifying and propitiatory role it plays at convivial community occasions at which food is shared.”

Bland by itself, couscous is served with meat or fish, spicey stews, chickpeas and vegetables in a mouth-watering variety of dishes.

Moroccan restaurant owner Hicham Hazzoum was among the couscous connoisseurs who applauded UNESCO’s honour.

“I think we are the only Arab countries to have a high regard for this dish,” he said. “It is impossible not to eat it every Friday.

“Moroccans are crazy about couscous and even children love it. It shows that the couscous flame will never go out.”

Across the region, couscous — also known as Seksu, Kusksi and Kseksu — is as elementary as rice or noodles are to Asian cuisine, the staple without which no meal is complete.

Arabic dictionaries have documented “Kuskusi” since the 19th century, though it is known to be far older.

The regional pride in couscous found full expression in the countries’ joint nomination for the “knowledge, know-how and practices pertaining to the production and consumption of couscous”.

“Women and men, young and old, sedentary and nomadic, from rural or urban communities or from immigrant backgrounds all identify with this element,” it gushed.

“The ethos of couscous is the expression of community life.”

 

 ‘Great unifier’

Tunisian chef Taieb Bouhadra said his country took pride in its different types of couscous.

“There are many varieties, almost every house has its own grain,” said the owner of El Ali restaurant, in the old city of Tunis.

Couscous is prepared from wheat or barley, and sometimes from maize, millet or sorghum, which is ground into semolina.

This is rolled into pellets which are sieved and later soaked and repeatedly steamed.

 

 

“Women, in particular, play a fundamental role in the preparation and consumption of the dish, and in practising and preserving the related symbolic value systems,” said the paper.

The girls learn not only the techniques but also “the songs, gestures, characteristic oral expressions and ritual organisation” that go along with the process.

Algerian chef Rabah Ourrad said about making his couscous dishes: “I didn’t learn this in a cooking school. It’s decades of observing the mother, the sisters and all North African women who are experts in this.”

In an often fractious region, there were hopes the joint bid would strengthen a sense of common identity.

After Algeria four years ago sparked the ire of regional rival Morocco by planning its own couscous nomination, the 2020 bid was a cross-Maghreb initiative.

Ourrad also passionately argued that couscous could serve as the region’s great unifier.

Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia all have their particular styles, he said, but adding: “We are all the same people, and the couscous is Maghrebi, the couscous is ours.”

Not everyone was fully on board with the mushy couscous diplomacy, including Hazzoum, the Moroccan restaurant manager.

“I say this with all due respect to other countries,” he told AFP, “but Moroccan couscous is the best.”

Three Dead In Algeria Military Helicopter Crash

File photo of an Algerian flag.

 

Three Algerian navy officers died when their helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean on Wednesday morning west of the capital Algiers, the defence ministry said.

The MS-25 Merlin search and rescue helicopter plunged into the sea during a training flight off the coastal province of Tipaza with three pilots on board, a ministry statement said.

An amateur video showed the helicopter spinning out of control then slamming into the water.

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The ministry said it had opened an investigation.

Algeria has seen a number of accidents involving military aircraft in recent years.

In January, a fighter jet crashed on a night training exercise in the east of the North African country, killing both of its crew.

In April 2018, an Ilyushin Il-76 heavy transport aircraft crashed south of Algiers with the loss of all 257 people on board, most of them military personnel, the deadliest air accident in Algerian history.

AFP

Friendly: Super Eagles Lose 1-0 to African Champions, Algeria

Super Eagles players in training session before the friendly match against Algeria on October 9, 2020.

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have lost 1-0 to African champions, Algeria in a friendly match played in Klagenfurt, Austria on Friday night.

Missing four of their regular players, Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Ayodele-Aribo, Oghenekaro Etebo and marksman Victor Osimhen for different reasons, Nigeria had to start with an unfamiliar midfield trio of Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, debutant Frank Onyeka and Alex Iwobi, with left back Zaidu Sanusi getting Coach Gernot Rohr’s nod ahead of regular Jamilu Collins to earn his first cap.

The Fennecs started powerfully and quickly forced a corner kick in the third minute, which was bundled to safety. Three minutes later, the African champions got the lead when Ramy Bensebaini reacted faster to a loose ball from another corner kick.

The goal was actually a reflection of the state of flow of the game, as the Algerians reacted faster and controlled the ball better.  Iwobi, latching onto the ball as Samuel Chukwueze cut inside from the right, saw his shot blocked. Okoye saved brilliantly from Farid Boulaya in the 20th minute, and two minutes later Alex Iwobi nearly restored parity but his shot from 22 yards screamed narrowly past Alexandre Oukidja and the far post.

Iwobi again enabled a flow from the middle in the 31st minute but Samuel Kalu’s shot was wild. Five minutes later, Maduka Okoye flung himself impressively to the right to parry a free-kick by Said Benrahma. The impressive Sanusi and Kalu had shots saved and a Samuel Kalu in-swinger missed everyone in the box as the first half came to a close.

The Eagles came into the second half with determination to add more grit to their game, Mikel Agu coming in for Onyeka. On the hour, Tyronne Ebuehi’s pile-driver from the edge of the box flew past the goal with Oukidja beaten.

Six minutes from time, Okoye again came up big, tipping away a tricky lob by substitute Fares. The Eagles got an opportunity to level at the death, but substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s dipping free-kick from the right flew narrowly over the sticks.

Left-back Zaidu Sanusi, right back Kevin Akpoguma and midfielders Frank Onyeka and Samson Tijani all won their first caps and will look to add to these when the Eagles take on Tunisia in an der Glan on Tuesday.

Friday’s encounter was the first ever friendly game between both countries, as all their previous 21 games were at competitive level.

Rape, Murder Of Woman In Algeria Sparks Outrage

 

An Algerian activist holds a placard reading in French “we dream of a country where women who talk about rape are heard more than men who talk about veil” during a rally in the capital Algiers on October 8, 2020 to denounce the brutal murder of a 19-year-old woman and those of the 38 other women killed this year. –  (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

 

The rape and murder in Algeria of a 19-year-old woman sparked cries for action on gender-based violence in the North African country and calls to bring back capital punishment.

The body of the young woman, identified as Chaima, was found in early October at a deserted petrol station in Thenia, 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the capital Algiers.

She had been beaten, raped and burned alive, according to local media.

The suspect, who has reportedly confessed, is being charged with “rape and voluntary homicide with premeditation and ambush, using torture”.

Chaima’s mother said the man was an acquaintance of the family, against whom the young woman had previously pressed rape charges in 2016.

The killing set off a wave of outrage on social media in Algeria, where internet users condemned the “heinous” crime and demanded justice, with many calling for the death penalty, under moratorium in the country since 1993.

A message shared widely online reads: “I am Chaima, I was raped in 2016 and I had the courage to press charges in a conservative society. I am still Chaima, it is 2020 and I have again been raped by the same rapist, who stabbed and burned me. #IAmChaima.”

– Death penalty –

In a video that circulated on social networks and was picked up by local TV stations, Chaima’s mother directly addressed Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and demanded the execution of the perpetrator.

Many Algerians also took to social media in support of reinstating the death penalty.

“Execution should be applied to the killer, to be an example for all those who think of doing the same thing,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another said: “We must open the debate on the death penalty, the monster who killed her has no place in society or in prison.”

But others in the country rejected execution as the best way to deter femicide, the gender-related killing of women and girls.

Femicides Algeria, a group that tracks such homicides, said: “It is not through the death penalty that we will give her (Chaima) justice, it is rather the law that must be changed and applied.”

The activists have counted 38 femicides in Algeria so far this year.

They recorded 60 in 2019, noting on their website that with so many cases going unreported or unconfirmed, the actual number “is much higher”.

– ‘Break the silence’ –

Hassina Oussedik, director for human rights group Amnesty International in Algeria, told AFP that “the death penalty is not a deterrent”.

“It is discriminatory and does not protect the most vulnerable.”

She added it was necessary to “change mentalities and the judicial system for the psychological and legal care of victims, launch national awareness campaigns, open shelters and train the various institutions”.

The Free and Independent Women’s Collective of Bejaia, a city on Algeria’s northeast coast, said Chaima’s killing “adds to the long list of femicides, which continues to grow in the face of complicit silence, the justification of violence and the absence of real measures”.

To “break the silence”, the collective called for a protest on Thursday in Bejaia.

The calls for action and solidarity have spread across the country.

The Algerian Women for Change Toward Equality group also organised a rally on Thursday, in Algiers, to “denounce the heinous crimes” that led to Chaima’s death and those of the 38 women killed this year.

-AFP

Algerians Take To Streets Despite Ban On Protests

Demonstrators take part in a protest rally on Place de la Republique in Paris on October 4, 2020, as they commemorate the October 5, 1988 riots in Algeria.  GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

Hundreds of Algerians defied a nationwide ban on protests and took to the streets Monday to demand democratic change and mark the anniversary of 1988 demonstrations that ushered in reforms.

Around 400 to 500 demonstrators in Algiers tried to march to the city centre but were dispersed by police who made a number of arrests, an AFP reporter said.

A prisoners support committee, the CNLD, said more than 20 people were arrested including students.

Protests also took place in several other areas of Algeria, with demonstrators chanting: “The people want the fall of the regime” and “Yes to a civil state, no to a military state”, according to the CNLD and social media.

Demonstrators take part in a protest rally in Paris on October 4, 2020, as they commemorate the October 5, 1988 riots in Algeria. GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

They called for the release of members of the Hirak, the anti-government protest movement which last year swept ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power.

More than 60 people are currently behind bars for acts related to Hirak, according to the CNLD.

Protesters had kept up rallies after Bouteflika stepped down, demanding the ouster of the entire state apparatus, widely seen as inept and corrupt.

But weekly demonstrations came to a halt earlier this year due to restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

With less than a month to go before a key referendum on constitutional reform — a vote the government hopes will meet protesters’ demands — many expect a resurgence of rallies.

Demonstrators take part in a protest rally in Paris on October 4, 2020, as they commemorate the October 5, 1988 riots in Algeria.  GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

Monday’s protests also marked the anniversary of October 1988 demonstrations which rocked Algiers, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency.

The protests left 150 dead, according to an official toll, but rights activists say the actual figure was more 500.

The army clamped down on the demonstrators but introduced political reforms which brought an end to a single-party system.

AFP

Osimhen Out Of Tunisia, Algeria Friendly Games

Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.
File photo: Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.

 

Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen, has been ruled out of the Super Eagles team for the friendly games against Tunisia and Algeria. 

“Victor Osimhen has been excused from SuperEagles’ games against Algeria and Tunisia,” the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)  tweeted on its handle, Sunday morning as Napoli imposes further travel restrictions amid the second wave of COVID-19. “His replacement is Paul Onuachu. #Team9jaStrong #SoarSuperEagles.”

 

The three-time African champions are billed to take on Algeria and Tunisia on October 9 and 13 respectively but new travel restrictions by the club mean the former U-17 World Cup winner would not be available for the games.

On Saturday, Napoli said they had tested all their players for COVID-19 but only Macedonian midfielder, Elif Elmas, was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

The club also said their players and staff were in isolation and would not be travelling for the international break.

Local authorities had told the Napoli team it was unsafe to travel and has restricted them from going outside Turin region for their league tie at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.

Osimhen joined Napoli in July for an undisclosed fee believed to be over $96 million (81.3m Euros), making the forward one of the most expensive African player of all time.

Image
Photo: [email protected] VictorOsimhen9

 

“Welcome to Napoli, Victor, ” the club said on their Twitter handle while confirming the arrival of the Nigerian from French side, Lille.

Osimhen’s move to the Gli Azzurri trumps the prize Arsenal paid for Ivory Coast forward, Nicolas Pepe last year.

Last term, the former Charleroi (from where he moved to France) man scored 18 goals in all games for Lille and has been linked with a move to Naples in recent times.

His stellar showing for the French side saw him winning the Lille Player of the Season just as he made it to Ligue 1’s team for the 2019/2020 campaign.

 

Algeria Blocks Social Media To Prevent Examination Malpractice

Photo: Eric BARADAT / AFP

 

 

Algerians were unable to access social media accounts on Sunday as students sat national exams in the North African country where authorities are cracking down on cheating.

Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp were inaccessible, an AFP journalist said, while the internet faced disruptions across the country.

The move came a day after the justice ministry announced that a teenager had been sentenced to one year in jail for having shared the results of an Arabic-language test online.

The boy was sentenced Wednesday by a court in the northeastern city of Guelma in line with a penal code amendment adopted in April that criminalised cheating during the brevet and baccalaureate examinations, usually taken at the end of secondary and high school, respectively.

After a spike in cheating during national exams in recent years, authorities in the North African country adopted legislation under which those found guilty of wrongdoing could face up to 15 years in jail.

According to the justice ministry, courts in Algeria have begun to hand down jail sentences to individuals accused of having leaked exam papers or results during the brevet earlier this month.

In 2016, authorities temporarily blocked access to social networks to prevent cheating after leaked papers forced hundreds of thousands of students to resit the baccalaureate exam.

Authorities then arrested dozens of people, including the heads of national exam centres and teachers on suspicion of leaking the final exam papers.

There was no official comment Sunday from authorities or telecom officials on the internet disruptions and the lack of access to social networks.

The baccalaureate exams, which began Sunday, are due to last until September 17.

AFP

Algeria’s President Sacks Labour Minister, Youcef

Abdelmadjid Tebboune

 

 

 

Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Wednesday sacked Employment Minister Ahmed Chawki Fouad Acheuk Youcef, his office offering no reason for the move.

Tebboune “today signed a decree ending Mr Ahmed Chawki Fouad Acheuk Youcef’s tenure as works, labour, employment and social security minister,” the presidency said in a statement published by the official APS agency.

It also named an interim replacement, Kaoutar Krikou who is already the national solidarity minister.

M. Acheuk Youcef, 64 ans, was named to the post in January as part of Tebboune’s first goverment since his December 2019 election.

He was reappointed during a government reshuffle in June that saw the energy and finance ministers replaced — two of the key sectors in Algeria’s economy.

The North African country is very vulnerable to falls in oil prices. Confronted also by a political crisis and a rise in COVID-19 cases, fears are growing of a financial crash and social unrest.

Mass protests swept Algeria early last year in response to ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announcement that he would seek a fifth term in office.

They swiftly morphed into demands for a sweeping overhaul of the political system, carrying on well beyond Bouteflika’s April 2019 resignation.

Last month Bouteflika was sentenced to 16 years in prison on corruption charges.

The protests were only suspended in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country.

Acheuk Youcef is the second minister to leave the government since the June reshuffle.

Samir Chaabna, minister for the Algerian diaspora was fired barely four days after his appointment due to his double French-Algerian nationality.

Algeria Sentences Prominent Activist To Prison

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

An Algerian court on Sunday sentenced prominent anti-government activist Amira Bouraoui to a year in prison, amid a growing climate of repression, one of her lawyers told AFP.

“This conviction is unjust, there is no evidence. We are going to appeal,” lawyer Mustapha Bouchachi said.

Bouraoui, a 44-year-old gynaecologist, is a prominent activist in the “Hirak” protest movement that secured the resignation of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika last April.

The mother of two was convicted on six counts, including “insulting Islam”, “insulting the president” Abdelmadjid Tebboune and “incitement to violate lockdown” during the coronavirus pandemic.

She was also accused of inciting illegal protests, publishing “fake news” likely to jeopardise security or public order and comments that undermine national unity.

Prosecutors had sought 18 months imprisonment.

“These kind of lawsuits, which have been going on for months, won’t calm the political situation,” Bouchachi said.

“It’s not the best way to open up towards society, activists and this peaceful revolution,” he added, referring to the Hirak movement.

Bouraoui was taken into custody after being arrested at her home on Wednesday.

A former activist with the Barakat or “That’s Enough!” movement, she came to prominence in 2014 when she opposed Bouteflika running for a fourth term.

– New criminal code –
In recent days Algerian authorities have arrested and prosecuted numerous activists in a bid to prevent protests from resuming when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Most prosecutions are being carried out under a new penal code passed hastily on April 22 amid the public health crisis.

The recent wave of arrests and prosecutions has led some opposition activists to say that the rights situation in Algeria today is worse than during Bouteflika’s rule, particularly with regard to freedom of the press.

The North African country has gradually been relaxing its coronavirus lockdown measures since June 7.

But even though large gatherings have been forbidden since mid-March, hundreds of protesters turned out on Friday to resume the weekly protests that marked the political scene before the virus lockdown — particularly in the northwest Kabylie region, according to local sources.

The authorities arrested nearly 500 people across the country during Friday’s banned demonstrations, though most were subsequently released, said Said Salhi, vice president of the Algerian Human Rights League (LADDH).

But of around 100 detained on Friday, nearly 20 were remanded in custody Sunday. The rest were either convicted and sentenced or freed pending trial.

Before the latest wave of arrests, the National Committee for the Liberation of Prisoners (CNLD) said around 60 people linked to the Hirak movement were in detention.

The movement started in February 2019, and after obtaining the resignation of Bouteflika after 20 years in power, protests continued, demanding an overhaul of Algeria’s political system in place since independence from France in 1962.

Algeria Backs Hydroxychloroquine Despite WHO Dropping Trials

 

 

Algeria will continue to use the drug hydroxychloroquine against the novel coronavirus, a member of its scientific committee said, despite the World Health Organization suspending clinical trials of such treatments.

“We’ve treated thousands of cases with this medicine, very successfully so far,” said Mohamed Bekkat, a member of the scientific committee on the North African country’s Covid-19 outbreak.

“We haven’t noted any undesirable reactions,” he told AFP.

Public figures including US President Donald Trump have backed the drug as a virus treatment, prompting governments to bulk buy — despite several studies showing it to be ineffective and even increasing COVID-19 hospital deaths.

Bekkat’s comments came days after medical journal The Lancet published a study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients, showing no benefit in those treated with the drug, which is normally used against arthritis.

The study found that administering the medicine or, separately, the related anti-malarial chloroquine, actually increased Covid-19 patients’ risk of dying.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Heightens Heatwave Health Risks, UN Warns

Both drugs can produce potentially serious side effects, particularly heart arrhythmia.

Bekkat, who is also head of the Order of Algerian Doctors, said the country had not registered any deaths caused by hydroxychloroquine.

Algeria decided in late March to treat patients infected with the Covid-19 illness with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic.

“For confirmed cases, we use hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Then there is a whole protocol for serious cases,” a health ministry official told AFP on Monday.

Thousands of people infected or suspected of being infected with the virus have received such treatments, said doctor Djamel Fourar, the scientific committee’s spokesman.

The World Health Organization said on Monday it had temporarily suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus, following the Lancet study.

That study looked at records from hundreds of hospitals, comparing a control group with patients treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, either alone or in combination with antibiotics.

At the end of the study, of those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine alone, 18 percent and 16.4 percent respectively had died, compared with nine percent in the control group.

Those given each drug in combination with antibiotics were even more likely to die — 23.8 percent with hydroxychloroquine.

Bekkat argued that the Lancet study had led to “confusion” as it “seems to concern serious cases in which hydroxychloroquine is of no help”.

“There is evidence that the use of chloroquine by Arab and African countries has proven to be effective when used early,” he explained.

Algeria’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst in Africa, with a total of 8,503 cases and 609 deaths officially recorded since 25 February.

AFP