PARIS: A movement demanding autonomy for Algeria’s Kabylia region said Wednesday it had set up a government-in-exile in France to challenge the national leaders in Algiers.
"We are setting up our provisional government so that we no longer undergo the injustice, contempt, domination, frustration and discrimination that we have endured since 1962," said the movement’s leader, Ferhat Mehenni.
Activists in Kabylia, a poor, mountainous eastern region whose inhabitants speak a Berber language, have been demanding autonomy that would recognize their distinct culture since the country won independence from France in 1962.
"Our existence denied, our dignity scorned, discriminated against on every level, we have been forbidden our identity, our language, our Kabyle culture," Mehenni said in a statement.
"Stripped of our natural riches, we are currently administered like a colony, like foreigners within Algeria."
Mehenni, 59, president of the Kabylia Autonomy Movement (MAK), said he was the leader of the provisional Kabylia government, at the head of nine ministers.
He said he had been arrested in Algeria for organizing unauthorized protests and there was an outstanding court summons for him there.