Aït Ahmed, Hocine

(1926- )
   He is a Kabyle and one of the historic leaders of the Algerian Revolution. He comes from a prosperous Kabyle family, and his father served as a caid during the French colonial era. Aït Ahmed is also called the "eternal rebel" for his role in fighting French colonialism and for being a fierce opponent of successive governments in Algeria. He joined the Parti du Peuple Algérien (PPA) when he was still in high school and later became a member of the Mouvement pour le Triomphe des Libertés Démocratiques (MTLD). In 1947, he was instrumental in the creation and organization of the secret paramilitary organization, Organisation spéciale (OS). In 1950, he was removed by Ahmed Ben Bella from the leadership of the OS, as he was viewed to be too much of a Berberist. In 1951, he left Algeria after French courts had condemned him in absentia for various crimes against the state. He took refuge in Cairo, and, as a representative first of the MTLD and then as an external member of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), he traveled extensively promoting the Algerian cause. In 1955, he attended the Bandung Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Indonesia. In 1956, the Soummam Valley Congress elected him to the Conseil National de la Révolution Algérienne (CNRA). On 22 October 1956, he was captured by the French authorities in the skyjacking of members of the external delegation, and he spent the rest of the war in prison. After independence, Aït Ahmed opposed the Ben Bella government, which seized power in Algiers. He also withdrew his membership from the Political Bureau of the FLN but was elected a deputy in the first National Assembly of independent Algeria. Critical of the Ben Bella government policies, he founded the first opposition party in 1963, the Front des Forces Socialistes (FFS), and instigated an insurgency in October and November 1963 from bases in Kabylia, a year after independence in 1962. He was arrested in 1964 and condemned to death but escaped from jail that year to live in exile in France and Switzerland until 1989, when his party was legally registered. In 1984, after his reconciliation with Ben Bella, they jointly called for elections for constitutional reforms and for political rights in Algeria.
   After the October riots of 1988, he returned from exile on 15 December 1989, and the FFS was also legalized as an opposition party. He boycotted the elections of June 1990, and he and the Kabyles were angered by the December 1990 Arabization Law promoting the use of Arabic at the expense Berber, or Tamazight. As a political party, the FFS supported the democratic process in spite of its reservations about the possibility of Islamist government. Despite the erosion of civil and political rights in Algeria, the FFS has kept its legal status, and it is still in opposition and continues to promote Kabyle rights.
   Aït Ahmed is a serious scholar. He received a doctoral degree in Nancy, France, in 1975, and his dissertation investigated human rights in the charter and practice of the Organization of African Union (OAU). He authored La guerre et l'après-guerre (1964) and Mémoires d'un combattant (1983).
   See also Arabization.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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