First president of Algeria, 1962-1965. He was one of the founders of the National Liberation Front (FLN), committed to full independence from France by revolutionary means. Imprisoned since 1956, he was finally freed by the French authorities in 1962 when it was clear they had lost the war. A moderate government led by Ferhat Abbas had taken the Algerian state to independence, but the exiled FLN congress in Tripoli was socialist.
It was this faction that Ben Bella led, forcing the resignation of Abbas in September 1962. Ben Bella became prime minister and acting president. He was confirmed president by unopposed election in September 1963. On 19 June 1965 fellow FLN member Houari Boumédienne seized power and Ben Bella was imprisoned.
He was born in Marnia on 25 December 1916(?) and in the late 1940s formed the armed Organisation Spéciale (OS), believing democratic means to be useless against rigged French elections. He robbed a post office at Oran in 1950 and escaped after two years in prison. He was one of the founders of the FLN in 1954.
President Boumédienne died in 1978, and Ben Bella's restriction was reduced to house arrest in 1979, then he was freed to go into exile in 1980. He returned to Algeria ten years later.
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