Friday, April 13, 2012
First Algerian president Ben Bella dies at 93
Ahmed Ben Bella was born on December 25 1918 and died on April 11 2012. He was decorated by De Gaulle for his service in the Second World War. However he afterwards joined the FLN (Front de Liberation Nationale) and fought for Algerian independence against France. Several times there were attempts to assassinate him. He was taken into custody by the French. One general called this a mistake that the intention was to kill him. The conflict between the FLN and France was exceedingly violent.
Ben Bella became the first President of Algeria after independence in 1962. However, Algeria's economy did not do well during his time as president. Ben Bella wanted to turn Algeria into a secular non-aligned socialist country. Ben Bella was a founding member of the OAU (Organization of African Unity)
Ben Bella was overthrown by his ally Houari Boumedienne whose plots were an open secret. According to one story Ben Bella introduced Boumedienne as “the man who is plotting to overthrow me” at an official lunch. In June 1965 Boumedienne led a successful coup which landed Ben Bella under house arrest until 1980. He was then freed by the incoming president on condition he go into exile which he did.
He returned in 1990. Ben Bella supported Saddam Hussein. However Ben Bella did not triumph in the polls when he ran for president. During the violent bloodletting of the nineties Ben Bella was critical of both sides the Islamists and the government. He remained an outspoken firebrand until well into his eighties and led protests to stop the Iraq war. For much more see this article.