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The Battle of Algiers-- The truth behind one of the bloodiest wars fought on the African Continent

A Newly Gained Independence

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A Newly Gained Independence
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Gillo Pontecorvo - The Battle Of Algiers (1965)
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    In preparation for their independence, the National Council of the Algerian Revolution (CNRA) met in Tripoli in May of 1962. They met in order to work out a plan for the FLN's transition from a liberation movement to a political party. It was July 1, 1962 when some six million people, twelve thirteenths of the total population, cast their ballots, and nearly unanimously voted for independence.  On July 3, Algeria was recognized by France as a newly sovereign country.    Ferhat Abbas was the newly elected president of Algeria. He was president from September 25, 1962 to September 15, 1963. So you could say that he was the very first president of the newly independent Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic.  During his presidency, Algeria was admitted as the 109th member of the United Nations on October 8, 1962.
    However, his presidency did not last that long. By September of 1963, he was replaced by Ahmed Ben Bella. Abbas resigned in protest of the decision to establish a one-party state. Under Ben Bella he was placed under house arrest until 1965.
    Ben Bella was one of the founding members of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). In 1956 he was arrested by the French, but was later released when Algeria gained independence in 1962.  Ben Bella, who increasingly used the power within his grasp, followed a left-wing domestic policy that included the confiscation of European-held farms and the nationalization of various parts of the economy.  From 1963 to 1965 the Socialist Forces Front, a Berber group, led by Boumedienne, who had fought against French rule, mounted a rebellion against the new Arab-dominated Algerian government.  After almost three years as president he was overthrown by Houari Boumédiènne in 1965, and put under house arrest until 1980.

    After overthrowing Ben Bella, Boumédiènne became president.  He served from June of 1965 until December 27, 1978.  In 1955, before he became president, he became a member of the FLN.  Soon afterward, he became chief of staff for the FLN, which he served until 1960.  In 1962, Boumédiènne became the defense minister under Abbas.

    After taking over, Boumédiènne suspended the constitution and established a ruling revolutionary council, of which he became the president of.  At first Boumédiènne faced some fierce opposition, but by the end of 1968 he had a secure hold on power.  During the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, Algeria gave strong vocal support to the Arabs.  They also contributed by sending soldiers and supplies.  Because of a recession in the economy, in 1971, Boumédiènne nationalized French oil and natural gas companies in Algeria.  By 1972, Algerian oil and natural gas output had reached record levels.  This high output of products resulted in price rises for petroleum and natural gas in 1973 and through 1974.  From this Algeria then earned considerably higher export earnings.

    Boumédiènne served until 1978, when he died in office.  When he died Rabah Bitat became the acting president of Algeria.  Like Boumédiènne, he too was part of the FLN.  Bitat was president from Boumédiènne's death in December of 1978 until the people of Algeria elected a new leader, Chadli Bendjedid president on February 9, 1979.

    Like Boumédiènne, Bendjedid also served for a quite lengthy period of time.  During the revolution Bendjedid served as a soldier for the FLN.  After gaining independence in 1962, he started to gain more and more influence and become more politically involved with things involving Algeria.  From November of 1978 to February of 1979, Bendjedid served as Algeria's minister of defense under Bitat.  In February of 1984 Bendjedid did not have any trouble being reelected.  

    There were many significant events that occurred during Bendjedid's presidency.  For one, in 1980 Arabic was made the only official language of Algeria.  Also in that same year there was an earthquake in northwest Algeria that killed an estimated 4,500 people.  Later in 1986, the collapse of world oil prices plunged the country into a severe recession. 

    Another thing that happened during his presidency was that he amended something very important  to the Algerian Constitution.  On November 3, 1988, Bendjedid allowed other parties to run for office other than the ruling FLN.  Shortly afterwards, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was founded in Algiers on February 18, 1989, led by an elderly sheikh named, Abbassi Madani, and a young mosque preacher by the name of Ali Belhadj.  This group supported things like a multiparty democracy and free market trading, and opposed things like an elite ruler who had power over all.  Civil unrest resulting from a rise in Islamic fundamentalism led to the postponement of national elections set for June, 1991.  Ultimately, this led to the resignation of Bendjedid, because of pressure from the military.

    After Bendjedid was ousted from power in 1992, a new president came to power by the name of Muhammad Boudiaf.  Before becoming president, Boudiaf was a key political figure and one of the founders of the FLN.  In February of 1992, Boudiaf became chairman of the High Council of State of Algeria.  This was a collective presidency set up by the military in 1992 following the canceled election in December of 1991.  Like some of his predecessors, Boudiaf did not remain in power long.  On June 29, 1992, he was assassinated by a bodyguard during a public speech at the opening of a cultural center in Annaba.

    After his death Ali Kafi was elected to be the new chairman of the High Council of State of Algeria.  Kafi's presidency was relatively uneventful.  This could partially be because he did not remain in power very long.  Kafi was president of Algeria until January of 1994.

    On January 31, 1994, Liamine Zéroual was appointed president.  Under Zéroual, there were limited efforts at negotiations with the Islamic opposition.  Zéroual won the 1995 presidential election In November of 1995, Zéroual again was elected president, but this was in part due to the fact that the election was boycotted by Ialamic militants.  Because of the constant fighting between these militants and the government, Zéroual decided to resign early on April 27, 1999.

   In 1999 a man by the name of Abdelaziz Bouteflika ran for president and was elected as an independent candidate.  Bouteflika did not have that much competition in the election because all of his adversaries had withdrawn before the vote.  They claimed that the vote was rigged.

    In June of 1999, the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), the armed wing of the now outlawed FIS, abandoned its armed struggle with the Arab government.  Its members were granted amnesty and pardoned for all the injustices they had done.  Since this violence has diminished , but attacks still occur.  With the fighting now starting to quiet down, other issuses started to arise such as corruption, poverty, and unemployment. 

    So even after gaining independence from France in 1962, Algeria still had to endure rough and difficult times.  It was very chaotic from time to time, but Algeria was able to pull through those dire periods in their history.  Despite its bloody past, Algeria was able to overcome the obstacles that blocked their path to independence.

 

Created by 8th Period Gifted II
Brandywine Heights High School
Weston Fillman
Lauren Fairchild
Alex Wiltrout
Ashlan Luft

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