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History, Independence

Ahmed Ben Bella, Ben Bella, Boumedienne, presidential form of government, French citizenship

The Evian agreements provided for immediate independence for Algeria, with special aid from France—referred to as “cooperation”—to help the country recover from eight years of devastation. On its side, the FLN guaranteed protection and full civil rights for the remaining settlers. After a three-year period they would choose between Algerian and French citizenship. The Evian agreements also allowed the French to continue to exploit the Saharan oil and gas fields they had discovered and developed during the war.

The departure of the majority of Europeans deprived Algeria of nearly all its skilled labor force. To make matters worse, factional rivalries within the FLN, kept in the background during the war, now became visible. At a meeting in Tripoli, Libya, FLN leaders approved a program that specified Algeria as a socialist state, with the FLN as the only legal political organization. The leaders were able to agree on little else, and open warfare soon broke out between factions. Colonel Houari Boumedienne, chief of staff of the Army of National Liberation, threw his support to Ahmed Ben Bella, one of the founders of the FLN, who in September 1962 was elected the first premier of independent Algeria.

Ben Bella started putting the country back on its feet. The first constitution was approved by voters in 1963, providing a presidential form of government. Ben Bella was then elected president. The only check on the president’s power would be censure by two-thirds of the National Assembly. With such unrestricted authority, Ben Bella became totally absorbed in his personal power and prestige, more and more preoccupied with international leadership, and at the same time more autocratic at home. By mid-1965 Boumedienne, then minister of defense, felt Ben Bella had gone too far; he had Ben Bella arrested in a bloodless coup and assumed supreme power.



Article key phrases:

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