|President of the National Constituent Assembly of Algeria|
25 September 1962 – 15 September 1963
|Preceded by||Abderrahmane Farès|
|Succeeded by||Ahmed Ben Bella|
|1st President of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic|
18 September 1958 – 27 August 1961
|Succeeded by||Benyoucef Ben Khedda|
|Member of the French Constituent Assembly|
24 October 1899|
|Died||24 December 1985
|Years of service||ALN 1936-1938, 1940-1943|
|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)[nb 1] was an Algerian politician who acted in a provisional capacity as the yet-to-become independent country's President from 1958 to 1961. His political views were noted as evolving from a collaborationist all the way to a revolutionary over an approximate twenty-year period.
The son of a caid, Said Ben Ahmed Abbas and Achoura (Maza) Abbas, he was born in the village of Taher, Algeria. In addition to being a caid in the village of Chahna, his father had also been awarded the rosette and silver braid of a commander of the Legion of Honor. He was educated first, at Phillipeville (now called Skikda), Constantine, where he received his baccalaureate. Before finishing his education, he was required to serve in the French army medical corps where he received the rank of sergeant. Abbas then attended the pharmacy school at the University of Algiers. After his education he 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. He was formerly an "integrationist" not opposed to the French annexation but advocating an Algeria where Algerians would have the same rights as Frenchmen. These early years his views were very sympathetic to his French allies, illustrated by his writings, such as in an article from 1936 titled "I am France". 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. Interrupted by World War II, he volunteered in the medical corps of the French Army. After his service, he continued to evolve and turn away from France, as General Giraud refused his requests to allow Muslims to enlist in their fight against the occupying forces as equals. His desire for change continued and he turned to nationalism, issuing the Manifesto of the Algerian People on Feb. 10, 1943. 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. The manifesto was presented to the French on June 26, and was rejected by the governor general. He, along with Messali Hadj form the Amis du Manifeste et de la Liberte[nb 2], which called for an autonomous republic. This results in his being imprisoned for a year, and the quick dissolution of the AML. In 1946, he forms the nationalist party Union Démocratique du Manifeste Algérien (UDMA)[nb 3] 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. 1946 also saw him named as editor of the publication Egalité. He remained active in politics as a member of the Algerian Assembly through 1955. During these years he was arrested twice by the French. His continuing efforts did not succeed and he fled to Cairo, in 1956. While in Cairo, he worked alongside Ahmed Ben Bella, a fellow revolutionary.
Involvement with FLN
As he was opposed to violence, Ferhat kept himself distant from the Algerian War, and continued to try to act as an intermediary to the opposing sides. However, after the French intensified the war, in 1956, 18 months after the Algerian War of Independence against French rule began, Ferhat joined the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). His diplomatic skills were utilized by the FLN, as he was sent on missions sponsored by their ally, President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia. His visits through Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East were intended to drum up support for their cause. In 1957, he was appointed as the FLN delegate to the United Nations. 1958 saw him attending the North African Conference in Tunis, and in March he communicated an appeal to The Vatican for their assistance in creating peace. After the collapse of the Fourth Republic and the coming to power of de Gaulle, the hopes for an independent Algeria increased. This however did not end the fighting and on September 18[nb 4] of that year, the GPRA was created. His political standing in Algeria and reputation as a moderate nationalist, acceptable to the West, helped him become president of this provisional Algerian nationalist government-in-exile on September 18, 1958 when it was created. The position of President was largely as a figurehead and a diplomat, as most of the power was wielded by the cabinet; however in time a number of Asian and African nations recognized the government. In October 1958 an attempt was made by both Abbas and de Gaulle at ending the war with a meeting and intended cease fire were dashed on the inability of the parties to agree on a neutral location. By September 16, 1959, de Gaulle was softening as he offered self-determination to be decided by a referendum four years after a cease fire. This plan was generally accepted; unfortunately, there were a few substantial sticking points. By 1960, Abbas was becoming frustrated with the West as he lashed out at both Great Britain and the United States for supplying weaponry to France. With talks breaking down in June 1960, Abbas turned to the east and by September was visiting with Communist China, and the Soviet Union, where he was welcomed warmly. Abbas reassured the West by stating that his new alliances were opportunism, when he stated that
"We prefer to defend ourselves with Chinese Arms than to allow ourselves to be killed by the arms of the West."
On August 27, 1961, he resigned and Benyoucef Ben Khedda took his place, then subsequently joined 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.
Algeria gained independence on July 5, 1962, and 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.
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. 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) and L'indépendance confisquée (1984).
Ferhat enjoyed soccer and horseback riding, along with reading, in particular, Victor Hugo and Sophocles. He married Marcelle Stöetzel, an Algerian born French national on September 17, 1945. Halim was their only child, a son.
- Reich 1990, p. 1
- O'Mara 1999, p. 5
- Hoiberg 2010, p. 9
- Moritz 1961, p. 1
- Hoiberg 2010, p. 10
- Moritz 1961, p. 2
- Rockwood 2007, p. 2
- Moritz 1961, p. 3
- http://www.ipripak.org/factfiles/ff81.pdf[dead link]
- http://www.mushahidhussain.com/articles/article3_promoting.htm[dead link]
- http://www.foreignaffairscommittee.org/includes/content_files/Pak-%20Africa%20Relations.pdf[dead link]
- Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abbas, Ferhat". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-85229-961-3. LCCN 2002113989.
- Lentz III, Harris M. (1994). Heads of States and Governments Since 1945. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 28. ISBN 0-8995-0926-6. LCCN 94013310.
- Meisami, Julie Scott; Starkey, Paul, eds. (1998). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-18571-8.
- Moritz, Charles, ed. (1961). Current Biography Yearbook: 1961. New York, NY: The H. W. Wilson Company. pp. 1–3. LCCN 40-27432.
- O'Mara, Kathleen (1999). Magill, Frank N., ed. Dictionary of World Biography. 7: The Twentieth Century: A-Gi. Pasadena, CA: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. pp. 5–8. ISBN 0-8935-6322-6.
- Reich, Bernard (1990). Political Leaders of the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: A Biographical Dictionary. New York, NY: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 1–8. ISBN 978-0-313-26213-5.
- Rockwood, Camilla, ed. (2007). Chambers Biographical Dictionary (8th ed.). Edinburgh, UK: Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltc. ISBN 978-0550-10200-3.
- Aussaresses, General Paul (2010). The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria, 1955-1957. New York, NY: Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-30-8.
- Gordon, David C (1966). The Passing of French Algeria. London, UK: Oxford University Press. LCCN 66002149.
- Stora, Benjamin; Daoud, Zakya (1995). Ferhat Abbas: Une Utopie Algérienne (in French). Paris, France: Denoel. ISBN 2-2072-4231-5. LCCN 95195088.
||Head of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic
Benyoucef Ben Khedda
Abdur Rahman Farès
|Provisional President of Algeria
Ahmed Ben Bella