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Africa 2006,

The Arab culture and Islam were introduced to the predominantly Berber peoples of Algeria in the 7th Century. It survived subsequent invasions by the Turks and the French, who came in 1830 and stayed until 1962 when the Algerians won their independence after a protracted war against France. President Ahmed Ben Bella and his successor, President Houari Boume-dienne, introduced various socialist reforms. In 1988 widespread strikes led to rioting and the killing of hundreds in Algiers and other cities. It also gave rise to the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), an extremist fundamentalist movement bent on eradicating "European" influence in Algeria. As a result of violence backed by the FIS before the 1990 elections and pronouncements by its leaders that they intended to replace democracy with a theocracy, the rulers suspended the election. The FIS was dissolved by court order in 1992. In 1994 General Liamine Zeroual was appointed president to replace the High Council of State (HSC), which ruled in the interim. By mid-1994 some 4,000 Algerians and more than 30 foreigners had been killed by the FIS. General Zeroual held elections in 1997, which the Rassemblement national démocratique (RND) won. Following President Zeroual's resignation in 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika was elected as Algeria's first civilian president. After an amnesty agreement in 1999 with some of the armed Islamic fundamentalist groups, violence diminished and in 1999 referendum Bouteflika's peace plan was adopted by a landslide 98% of the vote. Boutreflika was reelected in April 2004 by a comfortable margin of the popular vote.

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