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France remembers Algeria victims

Senate agrees to set March 19 as day of remembrance despite fears of opening old wounds

FRANCE has set March 19 as the day of remembrance for the victims of the Algerian war.

The move ends years of disagreement over what to do about the 1954-62 war, with March 19 marking what some see as marking France's defeat with the signing of the Evian accord to end the fighting.

Hundreds of thousands of people died on both sides during the fighting, which was marked by atrocities on both sides.

Puy-de-Dôme senator Alain Neri proposed the bill saying: "The descendents of this conflict deserved a historic and symbolic date."

It was passed in the Left-dominated Senate by 181-155 votes - just weeks before President Hollande begins an official state visit to Algeria.

Right-wing senators voted against the move, saying the date would stir up old hatreds.

UMP senator and former defense minister Gerard Longuet said it was a "bad idea" as it marked the date when French people in Algeria were no longer protected by the French army and were faced with the choice of the "suitcase or the coffin".

Thousands of North African-born French citizens known as "pieds noirs" were repatriated to France after March 19. It is thought that 80,000 Harkis, Muslim soldiers who had fought for France, were killed after the war ended.

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