History, Boumedienne’s Rule
national charter, army commanders, Factionalism, great accomplishments, personal rule
Under Boumedienne Algeria finally began to capitalize on its vast resources. The army—rather than the FLN—became the dominant force. Boumedienne formed a 26-member Council of the Revolution as supreme authority; its members were army commanders and his close civilian associates. Factionalism and personal rule were strictly prohibited. Although Boumedienne remained first among equals—he was simultaneously president, prime minister, and minister of defense—the principle of collegial leadership was maintained. Nevertheless, Algeria’s political system remained autocratic and undemocratic.
Boumedienne pursued a socialist state-building strategy for Algeria. By 1966 all of the land abandoned by emigrating settlers, amounting to most of the farmland in the country, was appropriated by the government and incorporated into state-run farms. Boumedienne also inaugurated state plans to develop industry, particularly the hydrocarbon sector. One of his great accomplishments was the nationalization of the French-controlled oil fields in February 1971. In the early 1970s Boumedienne distributed state-owned farmland to peasant cooperatives in an unsuccessful attempt to boost productivity. He also promoted the use of the Arabic language and the study of Arabic culture, an action that was resented and resisted by the Berber population.
In 1976 a national charter and subsequent new constitution reaffirmed Algeria as a socialist state under solely FLN leadership. Boumedienne was legally elected president. When he died in 1978, Colonel Chadli Benjedid was selected by the army to succeed Boumedienne. An election officially placed Benjedid in the presidency. Benjedid initially continued his predecessor’s policies but relaxed some of Boumedienne’s strict political controls; he released and pardoned former president Ben Bella in 1980. He also began to reorient and liberalize the economy. His state plans gave greater attention to agriculture, and farmland was privatized. Benjedid was reelected in 1984, running unopposed.
Article key phrases: