Bendjedid, 'father' of Algerian pluralism, buried

AFP , Monday 8 Oct 2012

Algeria's leader Chadli Bendjedid was buried after a funeral attended by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and a number of Arab ministers

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stands in front of the coffin of former Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid during his funeral ceremony at the presidential place in Algiers October 7, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Algeria's former leader Chadli Bendjedid, the "father" of the country's multiparty system, was buried at the El-Alia cemetery in Algiers on Monday after a funeral attended by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. One of Algeria's longest-serving presidents, Bendjedid died on Friday aged 83.

Ministers from other Arab countries were among those who paid their respects, including Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslam, his Moroccan counterpart Saad Eddine El Otmani and Egypt's minister for religious affairs, Talaat Salem. Otmani described Bendjedid as "a president known for his faith in the united Arab Maghreb Union."

Hundreds of Algerians lined the route of the funeral procession, and women ululated as the coffin draped in the national flag was transported by a military vehicle from the presidential palace to the cemetery. He was buried in El-Alia cemetery in Martyrs' Square, the final resting place of other former Algerian presidents Houari Boumedienne, Ahmed Ben Bella and Mohamed Boudiaf.

Bendjedid, who ruled from 1979 to 1992, is credited with introducing multiparty politics to Algeria, where the single-party rule of the National Liberation Front ended in 1989 after bloody unrest over demands for democracy. The promulgation of a pluralist constitution in February that year kick-started the democratisation of government institutions.

Bendjedid was ousted as the army intervened to block Islamists from winning the country's first multiparty elections in 1992. The military intervention sparked a civil war in which an estimated 200,000 people were killed. Bendjedid was placed under house arrest in Oran and not released until after Bouteflika rose to the presidency in 1999.

His memoirs are due to be published on November 1, the anniversary of the outbreak in 1954 of Algeria's war of independence. Bendjedid was born on April 14, 1929 in Bouteldja, a village in eastern Algeria near the Tunisian border.

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