In 1954, the discontent displayed by Algerian rebels, the Front de Libération National, demanding independence, turned into war and was not settled until 1962, with the involvement of the French national hero, General de Gaulle. The situation in Algeria was different to that in Tunisia or even Morocco due to the fact that Algeria was an integral department of France and not a colony. “The rebellion of 1954 became a war because a numerically dominant but economically and politically backward Moslem population, in a large, strategically situated territory, geographically very close to France, sought independence from her, while a minority mainly of European origin, politically, economically and administratively dominant, wanted passionately to remain French”1. Due to France suffering defeat in Europe in 1940, and in Indochina 14 years later, accompanied by the loss of Tunisia and Morocco, it was particularly important for their national esteem that they be on the victorious side in the Algerian crisis. Therefore “in 1958 the Fourth Republic handed over to General de Gaulle the whole insoluble problem of Algeria”2 as General de Gaulle was deemed the only man possible to solve the situation and avert a civil war.
[...] De Gaulle exploited his victory in solving the Algerian crisis to benefit him and really mould the Fifth Republic to suit him. In conclusion, “General de Gaulle employed both direct and indirect tactics to restore the authority of the state and to increase his own authority and prestige as head of the state. The Constitution was designed to be an instrument of presidential power, as well as of government stability, and the President's conception of his own function as “arbitrator” did not prevent him from combining in practice the roles of umpire and captain of the team. [...]
[...] In the name of France and the Republic, by virtue of the power vested in me by the constitution to consult the citizenry, on the condition that God may grant me life and that the people may listen to me, I commit myself to asking, on the one hand, the Algerians in their twelve departments what they definitively want to be, and, on the other, all the French people to endorse that choice.”9. Finally, the promise of French Algeria had been abandoned and de Gaulle was going ahead with his plans for self- determination. [...]
[...] Hence, was even more essential for General de Gaulle to be able to rely on the obedience of the army and the civilian officials than it had been for his predecessors, for he knew that when he did give orders, they were going to be far more unpopular in Algeria and in certain French political parties than any that had ever been contemplated by the six Prime Ministers who had wrestled with the Algerian problem since 1954.”12. Therefore General de Gaulle would have to spend a year preparing the ground before he voiced his private thoughts on self-determination for Algeria. [...]
[...] But, unless the rebel forces surrendered, which was the only condition on which the army leaders would agree to a cease-fire and to possible negotiations on Algeria's future, he was condemned for the time being to continue the policy of M. Mollet and his successors in office.”12. General de Gaulle was in a very complicated situation; he needed to gain support from all sides in efforts to restrain the army. Therefore when he visited Algiers, he had to play an ambiguous game making each side believe he was sympathetic to them. [...]
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