#VOA. | An ex-legionnaire deputy in France ousted by the Algerian Parliament

Parliament announced in a statement on Wednesday evening that it had “decided by the majority of its members to strip Mohamed Bekhadra of his mandate as deputy”in a vote behind closed doors.

Member of the Algerian National Front (FNA), a small formation which is not part of the majority, Mr. Bekhadra had been elected deputy of the Algerian community abroad in the constituency of Marseilles, during the legislative elections of June 2021.

Citing a report by the parliament’s legal committee, local media reported in April that Mr Bekhadra had served in the Foreign Legion and fought in several African countries in the Sahel on behalf of France before being naturalized French in 2006 .

The report, which AFP was able to consult, concludes that the deputy “was not qualified to stand as a candidate” in the elections. According to the text, “the fact that the deputy admitted having served in a foreign army with the rank of corporal” means that its “loyalty goes to a foreign state”.

“I turned this page 15 years ago”

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Mr. Bekhadra defended himself of any offense. “I cannot be stripped of my mandate simply because I served as a military nurse with a short-term contract in a foreign army”did he declare. “I turned this page 15 years ago, I did not betray my country because no law prohibits what I did.”

Mr Bekhadra, 50, claims he joined the Foreign Legion when he was 29 “out of imperious necessity so as not to be expelled because I was an illegal immigrant”.

The Foreign Legion is an elite unit of the French army of more than 9,000 men, which can be joined by recruits aged 17 to 39 from all over the world. After several years, or on behalf of the “shed blood” in battle, the “kepis blancs” can become French. Since the revelations about his past, Mr. Bekhadra had found himself in an untenable position, his service in an army unit of the former colonial power being very frowned upon in Algeria.

Sixty years after the independence of Algeria, the “memory file” remains a source of tension between the two countries. Paris is working to renew the relationship with Algiers, after a crisis fueled by remarks by President Emmanuel Macron in October, blaming the system “political-militaire” Algerian to maintain a “memorial pension” around the Algerian War of Independence.

Source: VOA-AFP.

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