Benyoucef Benkhedda

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Benyoucef Benkhedda
Benkhedda 19march62.jpg
Head of the third Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic
In office
August 9, 1961 – July 3, 1962
Vice President Krim Belkacem
Ahmed Ben Bella
Muhammad Boudiaf
Preceded by Ferhat Abbas
Succeeded by Abdur Rahman Farès
Personal details
Born (1920-02-23)February 23, 1920[1]
Berrouaghia, Médéa Province, Algeria
Died February 4, 2003(2003-02-04) (aged 82)[1]
Algiers, Algeria
Nationality Algerian
Political party FLN
Alma mater University of Algiers
Occupation Politician
Profession Pharmacist
Religion Sunni Islam

Benyoucef Benkhedda (Arabic: بن يوسف بن خدة‎; February 23, 1920 – February 4, 2003) was an Algerian politician. He headed the third GPRA exile government of the National Liberation Front (FLN), acting as a leader during the Algerian War (1954–62). At the end of the war, he was briefly the de jure leader of the country, however he was quickly sidelined by more conservative figures.

Early life[edit]

Benyoucef Benkhedda was born in 1920 in Berrouaghia, Médéa Province.[2] The son of a Qadi,[3] he attended both the local Madrasah and French colonial school. He later attended the Ibn Rochd lycée at Blida where he met pioneering Algerian nationalists such as Mohamed Lamine-Debaghine, Saad Dahlab, Abane Ramdane, Ali Boumendjel and M’hamed Yazid. "You are the knives which we sharpen against France!" was the oft repeated cry of the college headmaster.[2]

Having received his baccalauréat, he entered the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Algiers in 1943, and after an interruption of his studies, obtained his degree in pharmacy in 1953. In 1942 he joined the Algerian People's Party (PPA). A year later he was arrested and detained by local SDECE agents for campaigning against conscription of Algerians in the war against Germany [1] as part of the "unsubmissives of Blida". He was released eight months later.

Algerian War[edit]

He was the a member of the central committee of the PPA-MTLD in 1947 and served as the general secretary [1] between 1951-1954. In November 1954 he was arrested again and released in May 1955, due to the intervention of French liberals[4] (who included the pied noir mayor of Algiers, Jacques Chevallier), when he joined the new National Liberation Front. He became an adviser to Abane Ramdane in Algiers. In August 1956 the Congress of Soummam appointed him a member of the Algerian National Revolutionary Council and the Committee of Action and Co-ordination of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA) along with Abane, Dahlab Larbi Ben M'hidi, and Krim Belkacem.[5] He, Abane and Ben M'hidi comprised the political and military triumvirate which directed the revolutionary Autonomous Zone. Algiers had become the capital of the resistance.

He and Abane were responsible for the creation of many projects such as the newspaper El Moudjahid, the creation of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) and the writing of Kassaman, which would become the national anthem of Algeria.[2] He miraculously escaped capture by the paratroopers of General Jacques Massu by use of the sewer system of Algiers,[4] fleeing the city after the capture of Ben M'hidi by paratroopers under Colonel Marcel Bigeard, Ben M'hidi was later killed while imprisoned by soldiers of Paul Aussaresses.[6] He went abroad in the name of the Liberation front and accomplished much for the organisation such as visiting the capitals of the Arab states in 1957-58, London in 1959, Yugoslavia in 1961,[7] Latin America in 1960 and two visits to China.[4]

On August 9, 1961 he was appointed the president of the provisional government [8] and completed negotiations with France, which were started by Ferhat Abbas. A cease-fire was proclaimed the day before France officially recognised the national integrity of Algeria. He was welcomed as the country's leader by a jubilant Algerian population on July 3, 1962, the day that independence was recognised officially by France.

Later political career[edit]

A crisis emerged later that year between the provisional government and Ahmed Ben Bella, supported by the 'Frontier Army' and Ben Khedda was forced to stand down to avoid a "fratricidal bloodbath". In 1976 he, with three leaders of the war of liberation (Ferhat Abbas, Hocine Lahoue, Kheir-Eddine) signed a proclimation which set about to create a constitutional national assembly, elected by universal suffrage to create a national charter. The four signatories were placed under house arrest and had their property seized. He was released in 1979.[9]

Under the government of Chadli Bendjedid which claimed to be a multi-party system, he created 'El Oumma' with Abderahmane Kiouane and other friends from the liberation war in 1989.[1] Its objective was the implemation of the Declaration of the 1st of November, 1954, that is: "The sovereign and democratic independent Algerian State within Islamic principles".[2]

The aim of 'El Oumma' was to work towards a coming together of the Islamist and Nationalist parties for an Islamic society. The president, Liamine Zeroual, who had succeeded Chadli promulgated a law prohibiting the use of the world "Islam" by the parties under penalty of dissolution.[10] 'El Oumma' dissolved, unsuccessful, in 1997.[1] At the same time he founded the 'Tadhamoune' with Sheikh Ahmed Sahnoune with the aim of denouncing the state because of serious human rights violations after the military coup of January 1992.

Later life and popular recognition[edit]

He lived a quiet life for the rest of his days, running a pharmacy in Hydra, Algiers.[1] After a long illness, Benyoucef Benkhedda died in his home in Algiers on February 4, 2003. A large crowd turned out for his funeral and he was buried at Sidi Yahia cemetery next to long-time companion Saad Dahlab. The University of Algiers was later named in his honour. He had three sons.

Bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Obituary from The Guardian, February 18, 2003
  2. ^ a b c d (French) Fondation Benyoucef Benkhedda Biography
  3. ^ The Brothers - Time March 16, 1962
  4. ^ a b c New Team - Time Magazine September 8, 1961
  5. ^ The World at war - ALGERIA 1945-1957
  6. ^ Paul Aussaresses, The Battle of the Casbah. p. 179
  7. ^ Cautious Clambake - TIME - September 8, 1961
  8. ^ The Permanent Mission of Algeria to the UN - History
  9. ^ Survivor of a Coup - TIME July 16, 1979
  10. ^ NEW LAWS AFFECTING THE STAKES AND FAIRNESS OF THE ELECTIONS - Human Rights Watch April 3, 1997

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ferhat Abbas
Head of the Algerian Provisional Government
1961–1962
Succeeded by
Abdur Rahman Farès
(Chief of the Provisional Executive)