Algeria cancels France 24’s operating license day after legislative elections

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Algeria cancelled the accreditation of France 24, the communications ministry said Sunday, a day after parliamentary elections in the former French colony.

The move was due to the satellite news channel’s “clear and repeated hostility towards our country and its institutions,” the ministry and government spokesman Ammar Belhimer said, in quotes carried by the APS news agency.

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The outlet said authorities had given the channel a final warning on March 13, over its “coverage of Friday marches” of the long-running Hirak anti-government protest movement.

France 24 did not immediately respond to Sunday’s announcement, but in March its director Marc Saikali had defended the outlet as “just doing our work as journalists, respecting the rules in place.”

The French government, which has tense ties with Algiers, did not immediately comment on the withdrawal of France 24’s accreditation.

Both foreign and local journalists in Algeria often face bureaucratic and unclear procedures to obtain permission to work.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Algeria 146 out of 180 countries and territories in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, a 27-place drop from 2015.

The withdrawal of France 24’s accreditation came a day after the North African country held legislative elections, with almost 70 percent of voters abstaining according to official figures.

It also comes amid mounting official pressure against the Hirak and a string of arrests of journalists and opposition figures.

Although former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down in 2019 in the face of anti-regime protests, demonstrations have continued, demanding an overhaul of the ruling system in place since independence from France in 1962.

The authorities say the movement’s main demands have been met, and accuse the remaining protestors of working against Algeria’s interests.

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