Chief of Staff of the Algerian army during most of the Algerian Civil War
The Army officers who demanded the annulment of parliamentary elections which would have seen the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) come to power, in 1992, Muhammad Lamari was prominent amongst them. He advocated a policy of crushing the Islamist threat by whatever means considered necessary. Thus to his opponents Muhammad Lamari was the public face of state brutality.
A new electoral law in 1989 revoked a ban on new political parties and allowed opposition groups to contest future elections. The FIS won more than half of the vote in local elections in 1990 and repeated its success in the first round of parliamentary elections in December 1991. With the FIS victory certain to be confirmed in a second round of voting early in 1992, Muhammad Lamari was one of the key movers in the coup, which prevented this outcome. Accordingly, parliament was dissolved by presidential decree and the army was deployed to put down protest by the supporters of the FIS, which had been outlawed.
Muhammad Lamari became Chief of Staff, a post he would hold for more than a decade of war, and was also put in charge of an anti-terrorism task force. The dissident army officers accused Muhammad Lamari of controlling militia, the Organisation of Young Free Algerians, which was widely blamed for attacks of civilians. He retired from the military at the age of 65.
Born into a military family originally hailed from the Saharan town of Biskra Muhammad Lamar joined the French Colonial Army. He stayed in the French Army until 1961, switching sides to join the National Liberation Army (ALN) just a year before France was forced to admit defeat and cede independence to Algeria.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan