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Ferhat Abbas

Ferhat Abbas
President of the National Constituent Assembly of Algeria
In office
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
In office
18 September 1958 – 27 August 1961
Preceded by First
Succeeded by Benyoucef Ben Khedda
Member of the French Constituent Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born (1899-10-24)24 October 1899
Taher, Algeria
Died 24 December 1985(1985-12-24) (aged 86)
Algiers, Algeria
Political party FLN
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance Algeria
Service/branch French Army
Years of service ALN 1936-1938, 1940-1943
Unit Medical Corps
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)[1][2][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.


  • Background 1
  • Involvement with FLN 2
  • After independence 3
  • Writings 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Notes 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9


The son of a Egalité.[6] 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.[5] While in Cairo, he worked alongside Ahmed Ben Bella, a fellow revolutionary.[7]

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).[5][6] 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.[6] 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.[6] After the collapse of the Fourth Republic and the coming to power of Charles 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 Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (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.[5] 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.[6] By 1960, Abbas was becoming frustrated with the West as he lashed out at the United Kingdom 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.[8] 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."[8]

On August 27, 1961, he resigned and Benyoucef Ben Khedda took his place,[4] 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.[9][10][11]

After independence

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.[5]

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.[12] 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)[5] and L'indépendance confisquée (1984).

Personal life

Ferhat enjoyed soccer, horseback riding, and reading, in particular, Victor Hugo and Sophocles.[4] He married Marcelle Stöetzel, an Algerian born French national on September 17, 1945. Halim was their only child, a son.[8]


  1. ^ Some sources state that the date of his birth was August 24, 1899.[3][4]
  2. ^ This translates to Friends of the Manifesto and Liberty.[3]
  3. ^ Translated to Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto.[5]
  4. ^ Some sources give the 19th of September as the date.[6]


  1. ^ Reich 1990, p. 1
  2. ^ a b O'Mara 1999, p. 5
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hoiberg 2010, p. 9
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Moritz 1961, p. 1
  5. ^ a b c d e f Hoiberg 2010, p. 10
  6. ^ a b c d e f Moritz 1961, p. 2
  7. ^ Rockwood 2007, p. 2
  8. ^ a b c Moritz 1961, p. 3
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^


  • Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abbas, Ferhat". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. pp. 9–10.  
  • Lentz III, Harris M. (1994). Heads of States and Governments Since 1945. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 28.  
  • Meisami, Julie Scott; Starkey, Paul, eds. (1998). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. London: Routledge.  
  • Moritz, Charles, ed. (1961). Current Biography Yearbook: 1961. New York, NY: The H. W. Wilson Company. pp. 1–3.  
  • 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.  
  • 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.  
  • Rockwood, Camilla, ed. (2007). Chambers Biographical Dictionary (8th ed.). Edinburgh, UK: Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltc.  

Further reading

  • Aussaresses, General Paul (2010). The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria, 1955-1957. New York, NY: Enigma Books.  
  • Gillespie, Joan (1960). Algeria: Rebellion and Revolution. London, UK: E. Benn.  
  • Gordon, David C (1966). The Passing of French Algeria. London, UK: Oxford University Press.  
  • Stora, Benjamin; Daoud, Zakya (1995). Ferhat Abbas: Une Utopie Algérienne (in French). Paris, France: Denoel.  
Political offices
Preceded by
Head of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic
Succeeded by
Benyoucef Ben Khedda
Preceded by
Abdur Rahman Farès
Provisional President of Algeria
Succeeded by
Ahmed Ben Bella
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