• Short Summary

    Algeria...in mourning for President Houari Boumedienne - is faced with six weeks of interim government?

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    Algeria...in mourning for President Houari Boumedienne - is faced with six weeks of interim government before choosing a new leader. President Boumedienne, who died on Wednesday (27 December), had ruled Algeria virtually unchallenged for more than thirteen years, and left no obvious successor. The country is now being governed by an eight-man Revolutionary council, from whose ranks the eventual presidential successor. is almost certain to be chosen. The state funeral of the late President was held on Friday (29 December) and more than one million mourners thronged the streets of the capital, Algiers.

    SYNOPSIS: Before the funeral ceremony began, thousands of people lined the route of the cortege from the Palais du Peuple, where the late President had lain in state.

    Police were forced to step in when the vast crowds of chanting mourners threatened to get out of control. Since the death of President Boumedienne, thousands had filed past his body which lay in state for thirty-six hours. The Algerian leader, a prominent nationalist and guerrilla chief, died from a rare blood disease after being in a coma for six weeks.

    Tributes to the fiery Moslem leader have flowed in from all over the world, and Arab League countries declared a week of mourning.

    During the procession, hundreds of mourners broke through police ranks and -- undeterred by the spray from water cannons -- tried to clint to the cortege. Ships sirens in the nearby port added to the cacophony of women wailing and crowds shouting slogans.

    Military police were rushed to the Algiers seafront to reinforce the regular police and troops who were battling to contain the swarming crowds.

    After a delay of half an hour, the gun carriage -- pulled by a Soviet-built armoured vehicle -- moved off through the crowded streets. Many mourners along the route, overcome with grief, collapsed and had to be taken to hospital. Others followed the funeral procession in their thousands.

    Eventually the procession arrived at its destination, Algeria's Martyr's Cemetery. This is where many Algerian fighters -- killed during the bitter civil war for independence against France in 1962 -- are buried. Nearly all Arab nations sent representatives to the funeral. A delegation from the United States was led by treasury Secretary, Michael Blumenthal and included heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, and Chip Carter, the U.S. President's son.

    President Boumedienne war regarded as one of the most prominent and radical leaders of the Third World. He came to power in 1965, after overthrowing Algeria's first president, Ahmed Ben Bella. The late President's burial, on a Friday, is a special honour under Islamic tradition.

    The leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, was among those mourning the man who, for thirteen years, was the figurehead of the Algerian revolution.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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