|Biographical detail : ||Algerian nationalist leader.
Ben Khedda was a nationalist leader who helped to negotiate and proudly ushered in Algerian independence, became his country’s prime minister and was soon forced to stand aside to avoid bloodshed.
Ben Khedda, president of the provisional government of Algerian Republic, whose dream came true on 18 March 1962 when negotiation with the French had concluded – Algeria had gained independence, and war with France was to end. Since his student days Ben Khedda had supported Algerian nationalist movements, so independence was a personal triumph.
Ben Khedda became aware of the nationalist movement at the age of 20 and joined the clandestine Parti du Peuple Algerien that had been formed by Messali Hadj in 1935. He was imprisoned a number of times. He joined the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) and had to move to Tunis, which became the FLN headquarters and created a provisional government headed by the moderate Ferhat Abbas, and Ben Khedda was appointed Social Affairs Minister.
The Tunis-based provisional government received the support of the Arab nations. To increase the pressure on de Gaulle, (who had been summoned from retirement to the helm of the French republic) Ben Khedda led a delegation to China and to the Soviet Union – as a result, he was regarded as a Marxist.
Ben Khedda who now replaced Ferhat Abbas, in 1961, put forward a plan on 24 October 1961 for future discussion with the French and after lengthy secret negotiations a conference opened in March 1962. The French gave way on important issues and the Algerians, under Ben Khedda’s influence accepted compromises.
When, on 3 July 1962, the provisional government of Algeria declared its independence after 120 years of French rule it was a moment of immense pride for its Prime Minister, Ben Khedda. Soon after, however, Algeria’s independence struggle for power led to threat from the army, led by Col. Boumedienne, supporting Ben Bella, who had made himself a national hero. Ben Khedda stepped down to avoid bloodshed and reluctantly abandoned his plans for agrarian reform – an indication of the divisions that marked independent Algeria’s history. On 25 September 1962 the Algerian republic was established with Ben Bella as its Prime Minister and with Ferhat Abbas as President.
Ben Youssef Ben Khedda, son of a magistrate working with the French administration, was born in Berrouaghia, 20 miles south of Blida. He trained as a pharmacist. He was a quite, thoughtful man who believed in independence the only way to improving the life of the Algerian people.