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Algeria: Independence war (1954-1962)

Last modified: 2008-08-16 by ivan sache
Keywords: national liberation front | front de liberation nationale | fln | provisory government | crescent (red) | star (red) | star: 6 points (red) | hand (red) | soustelle | cross of lorraine (yellow) | stars: 7 (yellow) | cresce |
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National Liberation Front (Front de libération nationale, FLN)

[Flag of FLN]

Flag of the FLN, 1954 - Image by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

The National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Algeria. It was set up on 1 November 1954 as a merger of other smaller groups, to obtain independence for Algeria from France.
The party was a continuation of the revolutionary body that directed the war for independence against France. The National Liberation Front was created by the Revolutionary Committee of Unity and Action. This Committee urged all the warring factions of the nationalist movement to unite and fight against France. By 1956 nearly all the nationalist organizations in Algeria had joined the National Liberation Front. At this time the National Liberation Front reorganized into something like a provisional government. It consisted of a five-man executive and legislative body.
The war for independence continued until March of 1962 when finally, the French government signed a cease-fire agreement with the National Liberation Front (Evian Accords). In July of that same year the Algerian people voted for a referendum that approved the cease-fire agreement with France and supported economic and social cooperation between the two countries as well.

After independence, the party experienced an internal power stuggle. To counter this the Political Bureau was established by Ahmed Ben Bella, Colonel Houari Boumédienne, and Muhammad Khidr. Ahmed Ben Bella became the Premier in 1963 but was overthrown by Boumédienne in 1965. The Colonel held tight control over the party leadership until his death in 1978, at which time the party reorganized into its present incarnation.
The National Liberation Front held the position of being the sole legal party in Algeria until the late 1980s, when the Algerian Constitution was finally amended to allow a multiparty system.

Source: Wikipedia

Esteban Rivera, 7 July 2005

The FLN adopted the so-called flag of Abdelkader, precisely that created by Hadj in 1928, somewhat resembling the present Algerian flag. In all the available photos, the emblem appears at least as wide as in the present flag. The ratio is uncertain but could be 2:3 or 3:5. It is supposed that Hadj maintained the same flag certainly in 3:5.

Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001, translated from Spanish by Joe McMillan


Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (Gouvernement provisoire de la République algérienne, GPRA)

[Provisional government]

Flag of the GPRA - Image by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

A Committee for the Liberation of the Maghreb was created and later a National Committee of the Algerian Revolution. Deriving from the latter, an Algerian government in exile (Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic, Gouvernement provisoire de la République algérienne) was officially created in Cairo 19 September 1958, under the presidency of Ferhat Abbas, who on 27 August 1961 was replaced by the leftist Yusef Ben Jedda.
The flag of the GPRA appears in a photo of 3 July 1962, when, with Yusuf ben Jedda in front of it, it arrived at the Algiers airport (Enciclopedia Europeo Americana, Appendix 1961-1962). Observe that the points of the star are shaped similar to those in the present flag, penetrating slightly into the green. The area of the crescent moon and star is somewhat less (a third of the hoist, while now it is half), and the width of the white is approximately twice that of the green.

Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001, translated from Spanish by Joe McMillan


Nationalist flags

[Nationalist flag #1]         [Nationalist flag #2]

[Nationalist flag #3]         [Nationalist flag #4]

Four flags used by Algerian nationalists in the 1960s - Images by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

During the years of the liberation struggle diverse variations of the nationalist flag were used, but the majority were similar to the present national flag, notwithstanding that there are photos and reports of other flags.

Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001, translated from Spanish by Joe McMillan


Flag of a proposed Algerian Federation

Les Débats, 16 January 2008, has published "La question du partage de l'Algérie pendant la guerre d'indépendance (The question of the share of Algeria during the war of independence), a very detailed study by Benhamouda Kamel-Eddine(University of Lyon 2). The author analyzes the different projects aiming at giving autonomy to Algeria, considered by several French politicians as the only way to preserve French Algeria.
Regarding the flag of the future federation, Dr. Thomson sent on 14 October 1956 a letter to Ferhat Abbas, stating that "France would certainly not approve the fellaghas' flag as the flag of your federation" (that is the flag eventually adopted by the Republic of Algeria after the independence). The author reports a proposal made by Thomson, but the wording (not a direct quote of Thomson) is not clear, mentioning blue-white-red stripes placed at right angle with the hoist (which would mean placed horizontally?), with in the middle of the white stripe two shaking hands (whose colour is not mentioned and might not have been considered by Thomson).

Ivan Sache, 26 January 2008


French Governor's car flag

[Soustelle's flag]

Jacques Soustelle's car flag - Image by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

In January 1955, Jacques Soustelle was appointed Governor-General of Algeria. He used as a personal vehicle flag the French flag with his shield in the center. The shield is described thus:

"Per pale, gules a lion reversed or (a reference to Lyon, Soustelle's birthplace) and argent a cross of Lorraine or (proclaiming his adherence to Free France), on a chief azure seven stars (representing the rank of Governor-General) supported by a crescent (symbol of Algeria) and flanked by the initials J and S, all or".

Source: Vexillinfo [vxf] #62.

Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001, translated from Spanish by Joe McMillan


Erroneous flag report (1958): Coastal Zone and Sahara

[Erroneous flag of Sahara]

Erroneous flag of Algerian Sahara - Image by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

After five years of war, on 16 September 1959, French President De Gaulle offered Algeria the right of self-determination. The President proposed that the Saharan regions would remain French and the rest of the country would be integrated into France or form a Federation.
The idea of holding onto the Sahara (where France was carrying out nuclear tests) with a scarce population and where sustaining a war against France would be difficult, was not new. In 1958 a chart of the flags of the world showed one distinctive flag for the coastal zone and another for the Sahara. That of the coast was the flag of the FLN, but for the Sahara there was a green flag with a red crescent moon.

Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001, translated from Spanish by Joe McMillan


Unideintified flags from the independence period

[Unidentified flag]         [Unidentified flag]

Two unidentified flags - Images by Ivan Sache, 25 December 2005

A picture on the cover of the book Nouvelle Algérie by Michel Cretin-Vercel (Albin-Michel, 1963) shows street decorations. There is, unfortunately, no caption to the picture but "after A.D.P. agency". The picture shows horizontal rows of green and white flags. There are two striking flags showing the crescent and star of the national Algerian flag, but the red colour is not used on any flag shown on the picture. Moreover, there is a big white horizontal banderole with the motto, in red, A BAS LE CULTE DE LA PERSONNALITE (Down with the cult of personality).
It seems, therefore, that the picture was taken during the early days of the independence and that the flags and banderoles oppose to the seizure of the power by the FLN (associated with the red colour and the cult of pesonnality). The book mentions the "group of Tlemcen", that fought with the very same motto A bas le culte de la personnalité.

Ivan Sache, 25 December 2005