Forty years ago, on July 5, 1962 Algeria became independent. An 8-year war was over; French President Charles de Gaulle realized that further bloodshed was senseless and concluded a peace treaty with Algerian rebels. Later the treaty caused many troubles to de Gaulle himself: French colonial army veterans set up a secret armed organization to commit several attempts at the French president. Fortunately, the attempts failed.
Rebellious leaders from the National liberation front were sorting out their relationship in Algeria. First Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella was dethroned in a coup in 1965. Houari Boumedienne Ben Bella took over after him and was on the presidential post till his death in 1978. Then Chadli Bendjedid, known as the USSR best friend, took the post. Creation of socialism was started in Algeria under his guidance. But a Charter on adherence to socialism was adopted earlier, in 1976 already, under Houari Boumedienne.
Creation of Algeria’s social society followed a traditional way: the Soviet Union supplied military technique and oil production equipment to Algeria, and the latter, in its turn, allowed Soviet navy vessels enter Algerian ports. At the end of the 1970s Algeria started wine supplies to the Soviet Union. It is a really very interesting fact, taking into consideration that Algeria is a Muslim country where wine is banned. Nevertheless, Algerian wine had a very good reputation in the Soviet Union.
Creation of socialism also resulted in a sudden increase of Algeria emigrants in France. Majority of people emigrated to France in the 1960s already, and the emigrant stream never actually ceased. Unsuccessful social and economic experiments resulted in unexpected increase of popularity of radical Muslim movements. In 1991, during elections to the National People’s Assembly, it became evident that Islamists were extremely popular. Almost half of the parliamentary seats was given to the Islamic Salvation Front. Under the threat of fundamentalists’ coming to power, commanders of the Algerian army resorted to radical measures. Army officers forced Chadli Bendjedid retire. A High State Council headed by Mohamed Boudiaf was set up as political leadership of the country. The Council was considered a democratic opponent to the National Liberation Front. After assassination of Mohamed Boudiaf in June 1992, veteran of the war for Algeria’s independence Ali Kafi becomes president of the country.
However, armed collisions with Islamists occur even now. According to some sources, about 100,000 people died over the past ten years (Algeria’s total population is a bit more than 30 million people). Civilians are the first to suffer from terror of the authorities and Islamists. Outflow of Algerians from the country has considerably increased over past years. Refugees wish to get to France first of all, where they are not welcome at all. Numerous attempts to settle the conflict have brought no considerable result.
On the whole, the anniversary is rather unhappy against the background of continuos Islamist sorties and unfavorable economic situation in the country. But on the other hand, July 5th is probably the only day that makes all Algerians closer regardless of their political and religious views. Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/07/05/43726.html
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969