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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 April 2019

AFP bureau chief Aymeric Vincenot expelled from Algeria

The decision not to renew Mr Vincenot's press credentials was taken under the Bouteflika government

Aymeric Vincenot, AFP's Algiers bureau chief, sits at his office in the capital Algiers. AFP
Aymeric Vincenot, AFP's Algiers bureau chief, sits at his office in the capital Algiers. AFP

The Algerian bureau chief for Agence France Presse news agency was expelled from the country on Tuesday, hours after the interim president pledged to hold an "honest" election.

Aymeric Vincenot's press credentials were not renewed by Algerian authorities meaning his residency permit ran out forcing him to leave the country amid an unfolding political crisis.

Also on Tuesday, Algeria's parliament elected an interim president who promised to hold free and fair elections within 90 days.

"I am committed to organising elections," Abdelkader Bensalah, who has been re-elected as leader of the upper house since the early 2000s, said.

The army agreed to follow the constitution as a pathway out of the crisis, he added in his 16-minute speech.

But hours after his speech, the bureau chief for one of the world's largest news agency's was expelled, under a decision they said was taken by the Bouteflika government – that of the country's last president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was ousted by protests against his rule last week.

"This decision taken under the presidency of Bouteflika is unacceptable and it is out of the question for us, in these circumstances, to appoint a successor for the time being," AFP chairman Fabrice Fries said in a statement.

"By depriving us of our bureau chief, this decision seriously affects our presence in Algeria, which is there to provide exhaustive and rigorous coverage of the historic events that are currently underway," he said.

Mr Fries said the agency had sent special envoys to Algeria and it is "not giving up". He also expressed "the solidarity of AFP towards Algerian journalists, who are bravely doing their work in particularly difficult conditions."

It is not clear if Mr Bensalah's government will reinstate Mr Vincenot's press accreditation.

AFP is one of the world's largest news agencies present in 152 countries and is used as an important source of information for news organisations around the world, including The National.

The new Algerian president continues to face pressure from protesters who see him as a continuation of a regime who are too close to big businesses and establishment figures.

Opposition parties boycotted the session electing Mr Bensalah, while protesters chanted "Resign Bensalah!" outside the main post office, which has become a focal point of the uprising.

Updated: April 10, 2019 12:42 PM

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