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Algeria: Liberation movements (1944-1954)

Last modified: 2012-05-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: democratic union of the algerian manifesto | udma | setif | crescent (red) | star (red) | star: 6 points (red) | hand (red) | hand (yellow) |
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The Sétif revolt (1945)

[Flag of Setif revolt]

Alleged flag of the Sétif revolt - Image by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

The Parti du peuple algérien (PPA, Algerian People's Party), ruled by the historical leader Messali Hadj, then forbidden, was part of Abbas' AML. The PPA went out of Abbas' control and promoted general insurrection against France. It seems that Hadj had planned an insurrection in April 1945; he would have presided an Algerian provisory government proclaimed in Sétif and asked the allied powers gathered in the San Francisco Conference to support him. There was an attempt to liberate Hadj from his jail in Chelalla on 19 April, and the French administration decided to deport Hadj in Congo.
Both the PPA and AML called for protest demonstrations in most Algerian cities on 8 May 1945. The demonstrations turned to riots in Sétif and Guelma. In the neighbouring countryside, nationalists believed it was the beginning of the general insurrection; in the north of Constantine, the holy war was proclaimed and a hundred of isolated French (farmers, administrators) were killed. The French Army and the militia set up by the colonists repressed the riot very violently. Within two weeks, the French official count of casualties in the Moslim population was 1,500. The official Algerian history claims 45,000, based on a claim of 35,000 made by the PPA. This aborted attempt of national insurrection and its non-controlled repression was the starting point of the Algerian war.

Source: Encyclopaedia Universalis

Ivan Sache, 10 July 2005

It is supposed that the nationalists used in Sétif and Guelma the nationalist flag or one of the designs frequently seen later in the years of the war (1954-62). The inscription says Allah Akbar (God is Great).

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

Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (Union démocratique du manifeste algérien - UDMA)

[UDMA flag]         [UDMA flag]

Two flags of the UDMA, variant - Images by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

Ferhat Abbas (1899-1985) was the son of a civil servant of the French colonial administration and became a druggist in the city of Sétif. Abbas was elected in the Municipal Council of Sétif and then in the General Council of Constantine. Before the Second World War, he supported the "asssimilation" of the natives into the French society. However, the representative of the (European) French in Algeria opposed to the project, as did the political failure to act of the Third Republic. In 1938, Abbas founded the Union populaire algérienne (Algerian People's Union), demanding the prescription of the equality of rights for Algerians and French in the French Constitution.
On 10 February 1943, Abbas published the Manifeste du peuple algérien (Manifesto of Algerian people), demanding the implementation of the principle of self-determination and the creation of an autonomous (not independent) Algerian state. In May, the Addendum au Manifeste (Addendum to the Manifesto) included the idea of sovereignty of the Algerian nation. The French administration favoured the "assimilation" and Abbas and the nationalists founded the Amis du Manifeste et de la liberté (AML, Friends of the Manifesto and freedom).

After the bloody riots in Sétif, Guelma and Constantine on 8 May 1945, the AML was dissolved and Abbas was jailed for one year. The next year, he founded the Union démocratique du Manifeste algérien (UDMA, Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto) with moderate nationalists, mostly notables who expected to negotiate with the France the creation of an Algerian state. The armed insurrection against France started in November 1954. Abbas hesitated and eventually joined FLN in April 1956. This was a great political success for the FLN and a great failure for France, who lost most of its traditional Algerian supporters. In September 1958, Abbas was appointed President of the Provisory Government of the Algerian Republic by the FLN. He resigned in 1961 and was elected President of the Algerian Constituant Assembly after the independence, promoting the respect of the parliamentary system. However, the FLN drafted the Algerian Constitution, excluding the Assembly from the discusssions. Abbas resigned in August 1963 and was expelled from the FLN. He was placed under house arrest in 1964 and liberated the next year.

Source: Encyclopaedia Universalis

Ivan Sache, 10 July 2005

The UDMA established a flag based on another interpretation of the supposed flag of Abdelkader.

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

Other reported nationalist flag

[Nationalist flag]

Nationalist flag - Image by Jaume Ollé, 24 December 2001

In 1947 a statute was approved converting Algeria into a French department and conceding to Muslims the same political rights as Frenchmen, extremely often violated. In theory, then, Algeria became part of France, something that was opposed by the nationalist Muslim sectors.
After 1948 the present national flag with minor variations returned to regular use as the flag of political liberation.

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