Ben Bella, Ahmed


Ben Bella, Ahmed
(1916– )
   Ben Bella was the first president of Algeria in 1963 and founder member of the Algerian National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale—FLN). Born in Marnia, the son of a peasant, he was conscripted to the French army in 1937 and fought in the French army in World War II. He became involved in the struggle for Algerian independence shortly after the war, helping to found the FLN in 1952. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1956, and released in 1962 after France agreed to Algerian independence. He became independent Algeria’s first prime minister in 1962 before being elected president in 1963. He was overthrown in 1965 by a former ally, Houari Boumedienne, and placed under house arrest until 1980. After a period abroad he returned to Algeria in September 1990 to become the leader of the Movement for Democracy in Algeria (MDA), and he presented himself as the bearer of the original revolutionary spirit of Algeria.
   The FLN, particularly in the ideology put forward by another key figure, Frantz Fanon, incorporated Marxist-inspired doctrines. Ben Bella as president pushed through socialist-style measures such as expropriating the majority of foreign-owned land and encouraging widespread social and economic reforms especially in the areas of land and education. He did not, though, ally Algeria to the Soviet Union and his one-party authoritarian rule became increasingly autocratic. A significant figure in 20th-century politics, Ben Bella was more marginal within the Marxist tradition.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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  • Ben Bella, Ahmed — born Dec. 25, 1918?, Maghnia, Alg. First elected president of Algeria. After a French education, he entered the French army and was decorated during World War II (1939–45). After the war he took up arms to fight French rule. In 1954 he helped… …   Universalium

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