Independent Algeria, 1962-92
In preparation for independence, the CNRA had met in Tripoli in May 1962 to work out a plan for the FLN's transition from a liberation movement to a political party. The Tripoli Program called for land reform, the large-scale nationalization of industry and services, and a strong commitment to nonalignment and anticolonialism in foreign relations. The platform also envisioned the FLN as a mass organization broad enough to encompass all nationalist groups. Adoption of the Tripoli Program notwithstanding, deep personal and ideological divisions surfaced within the FLN as the war drew to a close and the date for independence approached. Competition and confrontation among various factions not only deprived the FLN of a leadership that spoke with a single voice, but also almost resulted in full-scale civil war. According to historian John Ruedy, these factions, or "clans" did not embody "family or regional loyalties, as in the Arab East, because the generations-long detribalization of Algeria had been too thorough. Rather, they represented relationships based on school, wartime or other networking."
The ALN commanders and the GPRA struggled for power, including an unsuccessful attempt to dismiss Colonel Houari Boumediene, chief of staff of the ALN in Morocco. Boumediene formed an alliance with Ben Bella, who together with Khider and Bitat, announced the formation of the Political Bureau (Bureau Politique) as a rival government to the GPRA, which had installed itself in Algiers as the Provisional Executive. Boumediene's forces entered Algiers in September, where he was joined by Ben Bella, who quickly consolidated his power. Ben Bella purged his political opponents from the single slate of candidates for the forthcoming National Assembly elections. However, underlying opposition to the Political Bureau and to the absence of alternative candidates was manifested in an 18 percent abstention rate nationwide that rose to 36 percent of the electorate in Algiers.
The creation of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria was formally proclaimed at the opening session of the National Assembly on September 25, 1962. Abbas, a moderate unconnected with the Political Bureau, was elected president of the assembly by the delegates. On the following day, after being named premier, Ben Bella formed a cabinet that was representative of the Political Bureau but that also included Boumediene as defense minister as well as other members of the so-called Oujda Group, who had served under him with the external forces in Morocco. Ben Bella, Boumediene, and Khider initially formed a triumvirate linking the leadership of the three power bases--the army, the party, and the government, respectively. However, Ben Bella's ambitions and authoritarian tendencies were to lead the triumvirate to unravel and provoke increasing discontent among Algerians.
|Country Studies main page | Algeria Country Studies main page|