Ferhat Abbas

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Ferhat Abbas
Ferhat Abbas - algerischer Staatspräsident.jpg
President of the National Constituent Assembly of Algeria
In office
25 September 1962 – 15 September 1963
Preceded by Abderrahmane Farès
Succeeded by Ahmed Ben Bella
Personal details
Born (1899-10-24)24 October 1899
Taher, Algeria
Died 24 December 1985(1985-12-24) (aged 86)
Algiers, Algeria
Political party FLN
Religion Sunni Islam
Ferhat Abbas
Military service
Allegiance Algeria
Service/branch French Army
Years of service ALN 1936-1938, 1940?-1946
Unit Medical Corps 1940s
Battles/wars World War II

Ferhat Abbas (Arabic: فرحات عباس‎‎; ALA-LC: Farḥāt ʿAbbās; Kabyle: Ferḥat Σabbas ⴼⴻⵔⵃⴰⵜ ⵄⴰⴱⴱⴰⵙ; 24 October 1899 – 24 December 1985)[1][2] was an Algerian political leader and briefly acted in a provisional capacity as the yet-to-become independent country's President from 1958 to 1961.


Son of a caid, Said Ben Ahmed Abbas and Maga bint Ali, he was born in the village of Taher, Algeria.[2] He was educated at Phillipeville (now called Skikda), Constantine, and the University of Algiers.[3] He served in the French Army for two years, and worked as a pharmacist at Setif, where he tried his hand at politics. At Setif, he was elected to the municipal council, then the general council of Constantine.[3] He was formerly an "integrationist" not opposed to the French annexation but advocating an Algeria where Algerians would have the same rights as Frenchmen. He became disillusioned with France, in 1938, when his hopes were not realized, and he organized the Union Populaire Algerienne. This organization preached equal rights for the French and Algerians whilst maintaining Algerian culture and language as primary.[3] Interrupted by World War II, he enlisted in the medical corps of the French Army. This did not quell his desire for change and he turned to nationalism, issuing the Manifesto of the Algerian People on Feb. 10, 1943.[3] The manifesto made apparent the philosophical changes that Abbas had undergone. He now condemned colonial rule by the French, but he also demanded Algerian self-determination. He went as far as to impart the need for an Algerian constitution, which would grant equality to all Algerians. In May he, along with some colleagues, added a clause foreseeing a sovereign Algeria.[3] The manifesto is presented to the French on June 26, and is rejected by the governor general. He, along with Messali Hadj form the Amis du Manifeste et de la Liberte, which called for an autonomous republic. This results in his being imprisoned for a year, and the quick dissolution of the AML.[3] In 1946, he forms the nationalist party Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (UDMA) when he was elected member of the Constituent Assembly of France. This new organization called for a more moderate approach, such as the formation of an Algerian state with the full cooperation of the French. His assuaging attempts did not succeed and he fled to Cairo, in 1956.[3]

Involvement with FLN[edit]

Not long after the Algerian War of Independence against French rule began November 1954, he joined the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), in September 1955. His political standing in Algeria and reputation as a moderate nationalist, acceptable to the West, helped him become president of the provisional Algerian nationalist government-in-exile, the GPRA, from 1958 until 1961. He lost his place to Benyoucef Ben Khedda, which may have been a reason for his decision to join Ahmed Ben Bella's and Houari Boumédiène's Tlemcen Group in opposition to the GPRA, which was subsequently dismantled.

Due to Pakistan's support to the cause of Algerian struggle for independence and self-determination, Ferhat Abbas was given a Pakistani diplomatic passport for his foreign travels.[4][5][6]

After independence[edit]

Algeria became independent July 5, 1962. From September 25, 1962 to September 15, 1963, Ferhat Abbas was president of the constitutional assembly, but this institution was rapidly sidelined by Ben Bella, who had gained the presidency. Abbas resigned in protest at the FLN's decision to write the constitution outside of the constituent assemblies authority. He was subsequently expelled from the FLN, and was then placed under house arrest from 1964 until 1965.[3]

In 1976–79, he was again placed under house arrest, after signing a statement opposing the country's powerful military-backed President, Col. Houari Boumédiènne. Still, he received official recognition in the form of a state decoration, the Medal of Resistance, on October 30, 1984 [1]. Abbas died in his sleep on the 24th of December 1985. He is buried at the El Alia Cemetery.


Articles written in his youth are collected in Le Jeune Algérien: de la colonie vers la province (The Young Algerian: From Colony to Province) (1931). His ideas on democracy and views on history were set out in a series of essays including La nuit coloniale (The Colonial Night) (1962), Autopsie d'une guerre (Autopsy of a War) (1980)[3] and L'indépendance confisquée (1984).


  1. ^ Bernard Reich (1 January 1990). Political Leaders of the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-313-26213-5. 
  2. ^ a b Frank N. Magill (November 1, 1999). The 20th Century A-GI: Dictionary of World Biography, Volume 7 language= English. Routledge. p. 5. ISBN 978-1579580469. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Abbas, Ferhat". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2010. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  4. ^ ipripak.org/factfiles/ff81.pdf
  5. ^ http://www.mushahidhussain.com/articles/article3_promoting.htm
  6. ^ http://www.foreignaffairscommittee.org/includes/content_files/Pak-%20Africa%20Relations.pdf

Further reading[edit]

Aussaresses, General Paul, The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria, 1955-1957. New York: Enigma Books, 2010. 978-1-929631-30-8.

Political offices
Preceded by
Head of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic
Succeeded by
Benyoucef Ben Khedda
Preceded by
Abdur Rahman Farès
Provisional President of Algeria
Succeeded by
Ahmed Ben Bella