|Biographical detail : ||Algerian politician
The politician Chadli Bendjedid whose ideas for change failed to satisfy his countrymen when he became President in 1979 and introduced democratic reform that sparked a decade-long bloody civil war.
The Algerian movement that gained independence from France in 1962 after 132 years of colonial rule was though under Soviet Union sphere of influence yet moderating his policies Bendjedid became the first Algerian president to pay an official visit to the US in 1985.
Under Bendjedid, Algeria became increasingly more moderate and conciliatory as he moved the country away from hard-line Arab states. He mediated and advised a number of disputes including acting as an intermediary between Iran and the US, in 1981, during the siege of the American Embassy in Tehran, eventually receiving the 52 hostages when they were freed. He also provided a haven for PLO fighters fleeing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and granted asylum to member of Eta, Spain’s Basque separatist organisation.
Towards the end of Bendjedid’s second term, in 1988, sporadic riots swept Algeria. He launched bold reforms – promise to relax restrictions on trade unions, opening up the media, reducing state interference in the economy and ending the monopoly on political power enjoyed by the National Liberation Front but he failed.
Algeria’s army generals stepped in and pressed Bendjedid to resign when, in December 1991, Islamic Salvation Front gained the first round of parliamentary election. The elections scheduled for January 1992 were cancelled. This was followed by brutal civil war that claimed many thousands lives. Bendjedid was placed under house arrest until 1999.
Son of peasants, Chadli Bendjedid was born in the village of Bouteldja on the Mediterranean coast bordering Tunisia. He joined French Army and later defected and joined the FLN guerrillas soon after the war of independence began on 1 November 1954.
In the later part of his life Chadli Bendjedid gave lectures tours at universities and other public forums.