Did Macron Withdraw His Ambassador From Algeria?
Behind the decision of the French authorities to refer their ambassador to Algeria, François Gouyette, to retire, starting next summer, a number of questions stand about this decision, which came at a time when Algerian-French relations are in a state of complexity, and reached the point of summoning the Algerian ambassador to Paris, Said Moussi, for consultations in the aftermath of the illegal smuggling of the Algerian national, Amira Bouraoui, through Tunisia towards France.
The last issue of the French Official Gazette, which carried the decision to refer François Gouyette to retirement, talked about “pension rights based on the age factor of the French diplomat”, and in this attempt to indicate that the procedure is very normal and linked to a routine legal arrangement governed by the time dimension, so as not to give the impression that this decision is related to the diplomatic crisis affecting bilateral relations between Algeria and Paris.
On the eighth of this month, the Algerian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the incident of the subject’s smuggling, Amira Bouraoui, due to “the participation of diplomats, consular and security men of the French state”, at a time when she was supposed to be present in Algeria on the orders of the judiciary, and considered that operation “a violation of national sovereignty.” It would “cause great damage to Algerian-French relations.”
The Algerian Foreign Ministry statement spoke of the involvement of French diplomats and consuls in the smuggling of an Algerian citizen, and this is a direct accusation against the French ambassador, as he is the first diplomat in the French embassy in Algeria, and this means that he is within the circle of people who are not wanted by their presence on Algerian soil, albeit implicitly, knowing that François Gouyette is considered one of the rare cases in the French diplomatic corps, because Macron bet on him to restore his country’s weight in the former colony, as he is fluent in the Algerian dialect and is also married to an Algerian.
Therefore, immediately after the explosion of the scandal of smuggling the Algerian national across Tunisian soil, there were strong reports that the Algerian authorities considered François Gouyette persona non grata.
From this standpoint, observers believe that the retirement of the French ambassador to Algeria is an implicit withdrawal from his post, albeit in a tactful way, to avoid further complications in relations between Algeria and Paris, according to what the French President, Emmanuel Macron, is keen on.
The circumstances left behind by the illegal smuggling of Amira Bouraoui, in which diplomats, consular and security elements working in French diplomatic and consular representations were accused, makes it difficult for the French ambassador to continue his duties comfortably in Algeria, because he will be under close scrutiny in the future by special services, which are now looking at him.
After all that has happened, he is someone who does not respect laws and customs, and more precisely, who is not trusted with his side.
It is not the first time that the chief French diplomat has lived in Algeria. The former ambassador, Xavier Driencourt, experienced a similar situation in 2019 during the “Hirak” or “popular movement”, when strong rumors circulated about his involvement in fueling the situation in Algeria at the time, which forced him to ask President Emmanuel Macron, by relieving him of his post, which happened a few months later, that is, three years after he was assigned the task, which is the period that the current retired ambassador also spent, noting that the usual term of office for any French ambassador is estimated at four years.
In fact, Algerian-French relations are usually marked by tension. Going back to the French diplomatic history in Algeria since independence, it turns out that the overwhelming majority of French ambassadors did not complete their pledges except in cases that counted on the fingers of one hand, one of which was the first mandate of the former ambassador, Xavier Driencourt (2008/2012), since the end of the eighties of the last century, and exactly with Ambassador John Odebar (1988/1992).