Hocine Aït-Ahmed


Acclaimed Algerian leader A leader of the Algerian war of independence against France that began in 1954, and a major opponent of the Algerian governments dominated by the military since then Hocine Aït-Ahmed spent decades in exile in Switzerland. He was a founder of the Special Organization in 1947, a group that became the nucleus of the National Liberation Front, or F.L.N., which unified nationalist factions and led the struggle against the French. After the authorities broke up the Special Organization in 1950, Hocine Aït-Ahmed sought refuge in Cairo. He worked from Cairo to win international support for Algeria's liberation struggle, eventually opening an F.L.N. office in New York. In 1956, Hocine Aït-Ahmed was among several Algerian leaders aboard a flight to Tunisia from Morocco who were arrested by the French military. He remained in prison until the end of the war in 1962. After Algeria won independence, Hocine Aït-Ahmed soon opposed President Ahmed Ben Bella because of the military's control of the government, and he created the nation's first opposition party, the Socialist Forces Front. He was arrested in 1964 on charges of antigovernment activities and given a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison. Hocine Aït-Ahmed escaped in 1966 and fled to Switzerland. Though he spent decades in exile in Switzerland Hocine Aït-Ahmed remained an influential figure in Algerian politics, pushing for democracy and opposing successive governments. Of Berber origin, Hocine Aït-Ahmed resisted French rule from his high school days when he first entered politics as a member of the nationalist Algerian People's Party, which had been banned by French authorities. He was born at Ait Yahia, a village east of Algiers, the son of a wealthy landowner. He earned a law degree from the University of Paris. Despite Hocine Aït-Ahmed's criticism of the government, officials declared eight days of mourning, and a state funeral was held in Algiers where thousands of supporters gathered in his native village for his burial.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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